Semen Management and Handling

Review these protocols to maximise reproductive success

Proper semen handling and storage is a critical step to ensure successful breeding. Incorrect handling can significantly impact your farm’s reproductive success. Check out the following semen management practices ensuring you start off on the right foot.


When ordering semen, use at least 90% of doses within three days of collection at the stud. Each dose will have the date of collection on the label. Every additional day semen ages can reduce total pigs born up to 0.3 pigs per litter. Record details such as delivery date and time as well as temperature at delivery. Use oldest doses first and discard any that have expired.


Follow all farm biosecurity policies when bringing any semen or AI supplies into the sow farm. Have a defined drop-off place for semen delivery; this could be at the farm office or even a cooler outside designated only for this purpose. Ensuring that the AI is put in a temperature-controlled cabinet.


Unpack all semen upon arrival and store it horizontally and loose at 16-18°C. Semen should be placed far enough apart in the storage unit, ideally on wire or open racks to allow for proper air circulation. Storage units should be sized for weekly delivery capacity. As a rule of thumb, allow 0.16 gallons (0.6 l) volume in the storage unit per dose. Rotate doses daily. Always record daily high and low temperatures and reset the thermometer. If a fluctuation of 1°C outside the acceptable range 16 – 18°C is observed, report to a manager immediately. These fluctuations can reduce the shelf life of a dose. It is best to have an analogue thermometer inside the semen unit as a safeguard, in case the digital thermometer doesn’t work properly.

In the Building

When it is time to inseminate, keep semen in an insulated box or cooler with gel packs at 17°C. Only take enough doses into the building for a maximum of one hour of breeding. This will ensure doses remain at the proper temperature. Prioritise fresh semen for sows that need a first service. Older semen should be used on the second service as long as there is fresh semen available to service other females.

Prior to connecting semen to the catheter, gently rotate the dose to mix. Ultimately, any dose that is taken into the barn and not used should be discarded.


Clean inside the storage unit monthly with a proper disinfectant, and clean cooling ribs/fans monthly. Regularly calibrate the semen unit to ensure proper temperature is maintained. Have the unit inspected by a technician yearly, typically before the summer months.

How is semen cooled at the boar stud to prevent damage?

After collection, semen is moved by trolley or wire rack to the cooling room. The cooling room uses cool air circulation to uniformly decrease semen temperature from extension temperature to preservation temperature in a specified amount of time.


and print the management recommendations
and stick the sheet on the door of the semen storage.