First successfully achieved in 1780 in a dog artificial insemination (AI) did not truly flourish until the first calf (Frosty 1) was born from a frozen-thawed semen mating at Cornell in 1952. In the 1960’s after liquid nitrogen became the refrigerant of choice for storing bull semen AI became more widely applied among dairy cattle breeders and has grown to a near industry standard today. The technology has been applied to a vast array of species and is heavily utilized in several production livestock industries. While AI has been applied amongst laboratory rabbits and in countries where stronger meat rabbit industries exist it remains a largely untapped resource for reproductive management among American rabbit breeders.
As a sixth generation Californian dairymen the application of AI to my rabbitry’s management was an easy and almost natural step. Upon the request of several interested breeders we took a break from the excitement of the show at West Coast Classic to hold a small demonstration Sunday.
Prior to the demonstration an exciting discussion was held regarding the technique about to be preform and how ovulation is induced in the does. This is likely the most applicable part of the demonstration for everyone. In our herd all rabbits are breed (AI or natural service) after a hormone inoculation to induce ovulation. The group discussed the various protocols that exist for this practice as well as additional methodologies including bio-stimulation, changing reproductive rhythm and doe manipulation.
Tammy Vaughn was kind enough to volunteer a pair of Giant Angoras for the demonstration.
“The Tools of the Trade”
Using an artificial vagina (AV) designed for toy breed dogs that we have adapted for use in our rabbitry the semen collection is demonstrated. The buck is allowed to mount a “teaser” doe. As he attempts to copulate his penis is captured in the AV where the ejaculate will be collected. Unfortunately as both rabbits are in full coat collection proved to be difficult. It’s explained that we generally use standard coated does for collection at home as it’s easier and cleaner.
After explaining how to examine for motility and concentration and prepare the
sample the insemination process is demonstrated. For this demonstration an
empty insemination pistol fashioned out of a sheath and small syringe is used.
The pair of Satin Angoras we showed at WCC are the result of an experimental AI breeding using frozen-thawed semen.