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ARTIFICIAL insemination (AI) by intravaginal deposition of frozen-thawed semen (Fairnie and Wales 1982) is simple, non-invasive and requires little specialised equipment. In Norway and Sweden, the technique is widely performed by farmers themselves. Mean conception rates of 50 per cent in Sweden (L.Söderquist, pers.obs.) and 67 per cent in Norway (Paulenz and others 2005) have been reported. Flocks in Scandinavia are small relative to the UK (Ulvund 2012) and sheep are frequently housed during the mating period. AI is performed to natural oestrus. Heat detection is performed using halter-trained entire rams wearing aprons. Optimal results are obtained with three times a day heat detection and insemination 12–24 hours after standing oestrus is detected. A dose of 200×106 spermatozoa is used (Paulenz and others 2005). To the best of authors’ knowledge, there has been no previous trial of this technique in the UK. The object of this study was to test the viability of this method of AI in sheep that are at pasture during the mating period.
A four-year-old Texel ram with no detectable abnormalities (Boundy 1992, Gouletsou and Fthenakis 2010) was submitted to an ovine semen collection centre (AB Europe, Ormiston, East Lothian, UK). Semen was collected using an artificial vagina and a teaser ewe; it was of …