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Effect of semen collection by transrectal massage of accessory sexual glands or artificial vagina on the outcome of breeding soundness examinations of Italian yearling beef bulls

Sylla, Lakamy, Palombi, Claudio, Stradaioli, Giuseppe, Vagniluca, Antonio, Monaci, Maurizio
Theriogenology 2015 v.83 no.5 pp. 779-785
Chianina, artificial vagina, beef bulls, breeding soundness, libido, massage, semen, spermatozoa, yearlings
Although semen quality is one of the major traits that influence breeding soundness examination outcomes in bulls, field conditions occasionally do not allow for the collection of semen samples by means of an artificial vagina. The aims of the present study were to report the results of a large number of semen collections that were performed via the transrectal massage (TRM) of the accessory sexual glands of Italian yearling beef bulls and compare this semen collection method to the artificial vagina (AV) method in term of breeding soundness examination outcomes; furthermore, we determined whether the breed affected the semen characteristics. In the TRM group (n = 475), the semen samples were collected via TRM of the accessory sexual glands, and in the AV group (n = 502), the AV method was used. In the TRM group, semen samples were obtained from 81.3% of the bulls and penile protrusion was observed in 87.6% of the animals during semen collection. The sperm concentrations (920.5 ± 439.0 vs. 281.0 ± 259.8 × 106/mL) and the percentages of total abnormal spermatozoa (22.8 ± 15.0 vs. 18.8 ± 12.9) were significantly higher in the AV group than those in the TRM group. The percentage of bulls that did not meet the minimum requirement for normal cells (≥70%) was 6.2% higher in the AV group than that in the TRM group (P < 0.05). Moreover, the samples collected from Chianina bulls by TRM exhibited a lower percentage of motile sperm and a higher percentage of abnormal spermatozoa when compared with the other two breeds. The major drawbacks of the TRM technique were the inability to conduct complete evaluation of the libido and mating ability of the yearling bulls, a significant reduction of the number of spermatozoa collected, and an increase in the variability of the semen characteristics due to breed. In conclusion, despite the drawbacks, TRM guarantees that semen evaluation can be conducted in cases in which the semen samples cannot be collected with the AV method.