Frozen boar semen program
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[MAY 4, 2006]
URBANA -- A pilot project at the University of
Illinois that could create worldwide opportunities for Illinois
swine semen producers recently received $69,500 in funding from the
Illinois Department of Agriculture's AgriFIRST grant program, which
is part of the governor's Opportunity Returns initiative.
The pilot project for an Illinois Certified Frozen Boar Semen
Program seeks to develop and expand the use of frozen semen,
which is capable of being transported over greater distances,
and at the same time produce independent and reliable standards
to ensure the health and fertility qualities of the product.
There has been a dramatic increase over the past 10 years in use
of artificial insemination to breed swine.
"Today, about 99.5 percent of boar semen is shipped as a
liquid fresh product," explained Rob Knox, U of I Extension
swine reproduction specialist and co-leader of the project with
Sherrie Clark, a faculty member in the U of I College of
Veterinary Medicine. "The liquid product has a very short shelf
life, which creates shipping and timing problems.
"We thought that a frozen product, while giving up a little
fertility, would open new opportunities to ship domestically and
The key, he added, is to establish independent testing that
ensures the product's value.
Knox and Clark will use their labs to determine the fertility
level of the frozen semen, and independent labs will run tests
on health-related issues. The pilot project also includes
collaboration with three Illinois commercial genetic suppliers
and three Illinois genetic exporters.
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"Neither the U of I labs nor the independent labs will have any
stake in the businesses, so the independence is assured," Knox said.
"In the future, the semen may come from a number of private
commercial suppliers in Illinois."
Information on the certified frozen product will be posted on the
Web through the MarketMaker site, located at
"This is a pilot project for one year, and we believe it could
have relevance for swine producers in Illinois," said Knox. "This
project will determine the value of an Illinois certified frozen
boar semen product with multiple health levels for international and
domestic value. This project is highly relevant to the Illinois
agricultural industry due to the large number of swine produced in
the state, the significant youth projects involving swine and the
Illinois show pig industry.
"The outcomes of this project could lead to a significant
increase in the exportation of valuable semen to international
markets and open the door for new sales of certified semen in the
domestic youth and show pig areas."
of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental
Sciences news release]