Artificial Insemination (AI) is used by deer farmers to acquire top stag genetics. Clearly, the use of a sire for natural mating is limited by the inability of the stag to mate with many hinds (see Mating management) and the physical restriction to one farm for the mating season. However, AI overcomes these limitations by distributing a stag’s semen over a wider number of hinds and across multiple farms.
This principle is central to the Deer Progeny Test (DPT) programme, in which genetic merit of sires are ranked across farms and years by use of AI (plus natural mating). This involves developing sire linkages, in which common sires are used across farms in the same year and across years…allowing the calculation of across-farm Breeding Values (BVs).
However, the use of AI is not limited to stud farms….commercial breeders can acquire top genetics by AI. This is an alternative option to buying high BV stags, especially in closed herds concerned about introduction of disease through outside animal purchases. Semen has a very low risk of disease introduction.
AI is not something to be embarked upon lightly…it involves considerable planning, the use of skilled people, and a time investment. However, if done well AI is a very successful genetic tool. Success rates of 70-80% pregnancy are commonly achieved at a single-time insemination…this is considerably better than achieved in other livestock industries.
The following pages will take you through the various considerations and actions for a successful AI programme. Remember…attention to detail is important.
Show me the science
Asher, G. W., Berg, D.K., Evans, G. (2000) Storage of semen and artificial insemination in deer View here
Fennessy, P.F. (1993) Artificial breeding in the New Zealand deer industry: genetic aspects View here
Asher, G. W., Dixon, T.E. (1994) Development of AI and ET of farmed deer View here
Wenkoff, M (2012) Maximise your Artificial Insemination Results (Elk/Wapiti) View here