Otrada, one of IMV Technologies’ partners, has used the Collectis automatic system at its production sites for over ten years. At the same time, they launched the innovative Gene Transfer Center (GTC) in 2022, where IMV Technologies acted as a strategic partner for the supply of equipment. We decided to talk to Alexander Gvozdev, who directly supervises collecting semen at Otrada
1. How long have you been working with the Collectis system?
We have been working with the Collectis system since the first day of the launch of our Danish genetics farm in 2012, where there are 54 places for keeping boars of the main herd. Moreover, in 2022, Otrada completed the construction of the GTC for the commercial supply of semen to other producers. There are 250 boars from three breeds: Otrada Landrace, Otrada Yorkshire, and Otrada Duroc. Of course, we use the Collectis automatic system for professional semen collection. A total of 3 Collectis are installed that serve six collection pens simultaneously.
2. How many people are involved in the semen collection process?
Four people are involved in the process of semen collection at the GTC: three collectors collecting semen from boars, and the fourth person driving the animals.
3. Was training staff and boars for the new collection system difficult?
Starting from the beginning for both people and boars is always easier - this is an absolute truth we face every time. It takes 2-3 weeks for the collector to master the process. However, a certain effort and a high management level are required to overcome resistance during the re-training of staff. Once having mastered Collectis, all employees note that semen collection has become easier and more convenient with Collectis. As far as boars are concerned, young boars calmly accustom themselves to the system. Re-training animals require special attention and patience, but everything can be solved.
4. What percentage of boars is collected with the Collectis system?
Considering its advantages, we try to use the automatic system for all boars. There are exceptions due to the nature of the animal, but in general, we collect almost 100% of the semen with Collectis.
5. Do you think a boar's trainability depends on its genetic line?
Regarding the breeds we work with, I would note the special nature of the Landrace; they are more difficult to train.
6. Is the Collectis system safe for boars? Were there any cases of injury during work or training?
In our practice, the system has proven to be a safe tool for the animals and people working with it. At the end or interruption of ejaculation, the artificial vagina is detached from the boar's penis without much effort and without injuring the animal's genitals. During collection, the artificial vagina repeats the rhythms of the sow's genitals, which stimulates the boar.
7. Did you see the time difference? How many boars per hour do you collect with the automatic system, and how many with the manual method?
In our production, we have installed pens opposite each other (Figure 1). Collectis allows us to work with two boars at the same time, this doubles the productivity of the site. When working with one boar, in general, the same semen collection time is maintained as with manual collection.
8. Do you think the automatic system is safer and more convenient for the staff?
Definitely. During manual collection, the hands of the collector inevitably become numb, and more breaks are required. The work is generally hard, especially if many boars per day are planned for collection. In addition, the pen door must always be kept open during manual collection, which creates a risk of injury to boars and staff.
9. Is there a difference in semen quality parameters (volume, concentration, bacterial count, etc.) when using different systems (Collectis and manual collection?
We note more stable indicators of volume and concentration since the human factor is excluded - grip force, technique, characteristics of a particular collector, etc. The Collectis system has a significant advantage – it is never in a bad mood and never gets tired.
10. Does seasonality (summer period) affect the quality of boar semen?
Yes, the microclimate in the room affects the quality of the semen. It is important to prevent overheating of animals during the hot period and also to make sure that the room is not too cold in winter. It is critical that the ejaculate does not cool down too much during collection.
11. The Collectis system is also associated with a high level of collection hygiene. Is it something you have noticed?
That's right, during automatic collection, the risk of bacteriological contamination is seriously reduced since the time of contact with the environment is reduced. The ejaculate is collected in a bag with a filter, attached to the artificial vagina, and isolated from the external environment. Accordingly, the ingress of dirt from the body of the animal and the contamination of the semen with air and dust are excluded.
12. Do you see an automatic semen collection system as the right solution for boar studs? If so, what category of boar stud is it suitable for?
Of course, it is the right solution, especially if we are talking about professional collection when boars exceed 20 per day. The system allows you to significantly optimize the process while obtaining consistently high semen quality.