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You've Never Seen This Before: AI a Sheep!

You've Never Seen This Before: AI a Sheep!
Detailed process produces lambs in sheep.

If you want to Artificially inseminate a cow, you go to training for a couple of days. Then when the cow comes in heat, tie her up in nay old barn, and go inside her vagina, using a long pipette to place semen in her uterus in the proper position. If you want to A.I. a sow, get fresh semen no older than about a week from a stud or farmer collecting and selling semen. When she's locked up in standing heart, insert the straw and breed her. The only catch is that you'll need to breed her twice several hours apart to make sure you have a decent conception rate.

A few people have tried to enter sheep with a pipette vaginally and inseminate them, but the success rate has been extremely low to this point. However, Tad Thompson, a veterinarian based in Sheridan, says there is a technique that works. It's been around for a while, but many sheep producers in this part of the country are just now getting serious about using it. Basically, it involves placing the semen into the ewe surgically, going through the underside of her belly in front of her nipples.

Thompson and his assistant, Jennifer Stewart, bred about 120 sheep that way a couple of weeks ago on Stanley Poe's farm near Franklin. Earlier in August, they bred another 100 sheep there.

It's a multi-step process. Tow guys manhandle a sheep and place her on a metal gurney on wheels. They stack up the 'hospital room' built on the front of Poe's ram barn with four to five sheep at a time. Someone else shears off the spot where the vet will enter the sheep. Another person cleanses and disinfects the spot.

Then the sheep moves to the vet station. He pokes a long device into one side of her underside. It contains a light that allows him to look in, like looking through a microscope, and actually locate the uterine horns. Then he sticks a long, needle like object into the other side of her belly. It contains the semen from the ram. Using the light entrance as a guide, he manipulates the semen straw until he has it where he wants it,. Then he instructs the technician helping him to press the syringe like object, forcing the semen into the uterus. If all goes well, the sheep is now impregnated.

Afterwards, she recovers on the gurney, and is finally sent back to the pasture. She's now a bred ewe, without ever seeing a ram. Conception rate typically runs up around 70%, sources say. Look for part II on why farmers do this tomorrow.

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