This study was done to determine the effects of processing techniques on the quality of semen from Dutch AI-bucks with the view on improving pregnancy rates after artificial insemination (AI) with liquid or frozen–thawed semen. Motility of spermatozoa was estimated under a microscope whereas the percentage live spermatozoa and the percentage live spermatozoa with intact acrosomes were determined by means of flow cytometry. Aspects of semen processing that were investigated are storage temperature of liquid semen (i), the effect of glycerol on liquid-stored semen (ii), removal of seminal plasma (iii) and type of extender (iv). The correlation between semen quality and fertility rates in inseminated does was also investigated.
The percentage motile spermatozoa in semen stored in liquid form for 72 h progressively declined over time, irrespective of whether storage occurred at 4 or 18 °C. The percentage motile spermatozoa in semen stored at 18 °C was similar to that in semen stored at 4 °C if stored for 24 h but lower if stored for 48 h. Goats differ in the sensitivity of their spermatozoa to the deleterious effects of glycerol. Neither the removal of seminal plasma nor the type of extender had any effect on semen quality before freezing but semen frozen in a Tris–citric acid-glucose (TCG) buffer with egg yolk without removal of the seminal plasma had better quality after thawing than semen frozen in another diluent or after removal of seminal plasma.
Remarkably no significant correlation between fertility and membrane integrity of spermatozoa could be found. Thus, although integrity assays for spermatozoa are useful to asses resistance to semen handling, the validity of these assays for predicting fertility is questioned.