April 21, 2023
At ABS Global, we have a long history of research, innovation, and quality in semen production which ensures that we offer our customers the very best product. We are never satisfied with maintaining the status quo, so we continually strive to improve our product quality and our customers’ experiences through dedicated research focused on factors that influence fertility. We know that reproduction is the most profitable thing a beef producer can manage, so that’s why we strive to produce a product you can count on for performance every time.
[LEARN ABOUT: Synchronization Protocols]
Today, our research is headed by Dr. Kevin Rozeboom who was hired in 2018 as our Senior Andrology Specialist. Rozeboom works to evaluate our current production processes and identify opportunities to further enhance product quality.
While 1/4 cc straws are the standard in today’s A.I. industry, some still have questions about the reasons behind the industry shift and best practices for handling these straws. In an effort to be transparent with our customers, we answered some of the questions we are asked most frequently below.
Question 1: Why did ABS Global move to packaging all sires in 1/4 cc straws?
The primary reasons were better quality and improved consistency of the product. At the time of the shift, ABS Global had already moved all dairy and Beef InFocus product to 1/4 cc straws. This provided a large amount of data on conception rate and post freeze motility that the beef team analyzed before making the decision to switch. It was because of these positive results in conception rate, as identified by Dr. Rozeboom, that the team decided it was their duty to make sure they were providing customers with the best possible product. Thus, adopting 1/4 cc straws allowed them to provide benefits to all beef customers.
Question 2: Where else are 1/4 cc straws used today?
It is important to note that 1/4 cc straws are the standard for both the beef and dairy industries around the globe. Domestically, all major studs have adopted or transitioned sires to be packaged in 1/4 cc straws. This was a shift in the entire industry.
Question 3: Is there a chance we will go back to 1/2 cc straws for packaging?
The short answer is no. The benefits in conception rate and post freeze motility are too great to shift back to 1/2 cc straws. For the foreseeable future, 1/4 cc straws are the new standard for semen packaging. In the U.S. specifically, all studs have adopted 1/4 cc straws, and the industry is showing no signs of going back, unless future research indicates otherwise.
Question 4: What benefits have been observed with the transition of beef sires being packaged in 1/4 cc straws?
With the enormous amount of beef semen being used in dairies, ABS Global has had the ability to analyze real world data on the performance of 1/4 cc straws. From over 180,000 records split nearly evenly between our 1/2 cc and 1/4 cc products from the same bulls used in the same herds, we observed an average conception rate increase of 2.6 percentage points in favor of 1/4 cc straws. It was this increase in conception rate that was the deciding factor in moving production to 1/4 cc straws for the sole benefit it provided our customers.
Question 5: What is the science behind these improvements?
The surface to volume ratio of 1/4 cc straws allows for better freezing and thawing which consistently improves post freeze motility. Because of the diameter of the straw, the sperm cells freeze and thaw at a more consistent rate, which minimizes crystallization and sperm cell death during the freeze and thaw process.
Question 6: Am I getting 50% less sperm cells in a 1/4 cc straw than in a 1/2 cc straw?
The answer is an absolute no. Sperm cell numbers remain the same regardless of package size. ABS Global maintained the same post-freeze target for the number of progressively motile sperm cells in our 1/4 cc packaging that we set for our 1/2 cc packaging. The concentration of sperm cells increases for 1/4 cc straws because there are same amount of sperm cells and less extender making up the volume of the contents in the straw. You can trust that when you purchase our 1/4 cc straws, you are not paying the same amount for less sperm cells.
Question 7: Do I need special equipment to use or handle 1/4 cc straws?
You will need an A.I. gun that is either specific to 1/4cc straws or a universal gun that works for both straw sizes. Sheaths remain the same. Today, the A.I. gun our teams in the field use the most is the A.I. Gun Kombicolor.
We recommend using tweezers to grab straws from your nitrogen tank as a best handling practice for 1/4 cc and 1/2 cc straws. However, if tweezers are unavailable, 1/4 cc straws produced by ABS Global are made with the air bubble on the top or at the crimped end of the straw. This feature provides additional convenience and thermal safety if tweezers are not used. Keep in mind that tweezers come in both 1/4 and 1/2 cc sizes, so make sure to use the correct size to avoid mishaps during semen handling.
Question 8: Are there additional handling considerations when using 1/4 cc straws compared to 1/2 cc straws?
All semen needs to be handled according to standard, best practice protocols that minimize temperature changes to the sperm cells. When handled correctly, environmental concerns for 1/4 cc straws are like those of 1/2 cc straws. Because the diameter of the straw is narrower, we do urge you to use caution when loading your A.I. gun to ensure you do not bend the straw.
Question 9: What is the minimum time a 1/4 cc straw should be in a water bath? What is the maximum suggested time to leave a 1/4 cc straw in a water bath?
We recommend a minimum of at least 35 seconds in the water bath and a maximum of 1.5 minutes for optimal results when post thawing. The ABS Global Technical Services Team has seen good results following this protocol for dairy and beef herds and has been recommending it for several years now. In the case that you receive a 1/2 cc straw we do recommend leaving it in the water bath for a minimum of 1 minute.
Question 10: Are all ABS Global bulls available in 1/4 cc straws today?
All ABS bulls at the DeForest, Dekorra, and Leeds campuses as well as at ORIgen are offered in 1/4 cc straws only. While a few sires may have 1/2 cc inventory available, all bulls on collection currently are packaged in 1/4 cc straws. All bulls that are deceased or no longer being collection will only be available in ½ cc packaging. Outsourced semen products such as our Club Calf lineup will likely only be available in traditional 1/2 cc straws for the foreseeable future.
Semen performance along with proper management and nutrition matters to the success of your reproduction program. That’s why providing a quality product to our customers is a priority for us. As Dr. Rozeboom states, “it is our focus to ensure that semen is not a limiting factor in your reproduction program”. You can trust ABS Global to challenge the status quo and ask the tough questions through ongoing research. Our overall goal is to ensure that we do the very best in terms of semen quality to maximize our customers’ pregnancy success.
[LEARN MORE: 5 Factors to Manage a Successful Repro Program]
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