Three young Suffolk ram lambs had lesions which rendered them reproductively unsound. One had a unilateral scrotal hernia, detected by palpation, and two had sperm granulomas which were detected by trans-scrotal ultrasonography at 18 to 20 weeks of age, before they could be detected by palpation. Changes in the lesions were monitored ultrasonographically at two-week intervals with a 7.5 MHz linear array transducer. On the day of each examination, semen was collected from the rams with sperm granulomas by using an artificial vagina, and their libido was assessed. Semen could rarely be collected from the third ram. Comparisons were made with similar data obtained from two normal rams. When the rams were 20 to 21 months of age, they were vasectomised on the normal side, so that the influence of the lesions on semen composition and libido could be assessed, and semen was collected and evaluated until they were euthanased at approximately 24 months of age, when the genital system was examined for gross lesions. The sperm granulomas changed in size (one of them increased in size by about 30 times) and echotexture over the 19-month period of the study, whereas the scrotal hernia, which contained omental fat, remained fairly constant. The libido of the two rams with sperm granulomas was comparable with the two normal controls. The total mean (sem) number of sperm in the ejaculates were 1.11 (0.10) x 109 and 2.03 (0.17) x 109 sperm/ml in the affected rams and 4.11 x 109 sperm/ml in the normal rams over the same period; the differences were significant (P<0.05). After unilateral vasectomy, the ejaculates from these two rams contained small numbers of dead spermatozoa, mostly with degenerate heads. Postmortem examination confirmed the gross lesions identified ultrasonographically.
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