Frozen Thawed Boar Sperm: Preservation and Dissemination of Swine Genetic Value


Written by Jennifer Ringwelski

Reproductive efficiency and advancing genetic progress are paramount in profitable swine operations and have been drivers for a continuously advancing pork industry. One of the most influential advancements for improving reproductive efficiency has been the utilization of artificial insemination with fresh, cooled, but also frozen thawed boar sperm (FTS). This results from the need to disseminate superior genetics while minimizing disease transmission.   

Frozen thawed boar sperm allows for global dissemination of genetics without the concern of transit affecting quality.  Prolonged and controlled storage in liquid nitrogen makes variations in shipping conditions less detrimental to post-thaw quality.  The extended storage conditions also allow, among other reasons, for:

  • Extensive disease testing prior to insemination
  • Indefinite storage of genetic material for repopulation 
  • Preservation of genetic lines (for risk mitigation, for example)
  • Repopulation of farms following disease outbreak
  • Expansion of swine herd genetic pools
  • Research.

While the swine industry has lagged behind other species in the adoption of FTS, considerable research has been conducted in the past several decades for improving fertility results to the point that it is today a viable option. Research has led to several advancements in freezing and thawing procedures, sperm evaluation, optimal insemination methodologies, and proper insemination timing relative to ovulation.   

Much of the research yielding improved in vivo fertility data, for both increased pregnancy rates and total born values, relies on the advancement of semen processing and insemination technologies. For example, Computer-assisted sperm analysis (CASA) and flow-cytometry systems can analyze and identify boars pre-freeze and post-thaw that have the potential for superior FTS fertility.  In terms of packaging, the mini (0.25mL) and medium (0.5mL) straw consistently yield superior post-thaw results when compared to other packaging methods.  Additionally, controlled-rate freezers allow FTS processing centers to closely manage and monitor freezing rates offering superior post-thaw results to those from static freezing.   Post-cervical insemination (PCAI) allows for fewer sperm to be deposited, deeper in the reproductive tract improving both the yield (sperm required per insemination) and fertility rates to achieve close to that of conventional, fresh or cooled semen.  Finally, the utilization of ultrasound allows for quick, accurate pregnancy diagnosis.

As the global swine industry continues to evolve, the utilization FTS allows for many opportunities.  IMV Technologies offers a complete line of semen evaluation methods, packaging options, controlled-rate freezers and insemination catheters.  Please check out the IMV Technologies website to see the options available or speak to your local IMV Technologies representative to learn more about our expertise. 

The views expressed in IMV Technologies’ blog do not necessarily represent the views of the IMV Technologies Group but solely those of the blog post’s author