What is "chilled" semen?
Chilled semen is one of the most popular ways semen is transported and used today. “Chilled” means that the semen is collected and then chilled down, or held at refrigerator temperature (40° F), using ice packs during transport overnight. This slows the semen activity down so that it does not use up much energy until it is warmed up inside of the bitch after inseminating.
Benefits for Using Chilled Semen for Breeding
Convenience of getting semen overnight from a stud dog located far away without having to ship either the stud dog or the bitch.
Longevity of storage as extended, chilled semen lives several days so can be collected and refrigerated if the stud dog is going out of town and the bitch is not yet ready to be bred.
Chilled Semen Procedure
Once the semen has been collected and evaluated for quantity, motility and quality, it is mixed in a test tube with an extender. Extender is a solution that contains nutrients, buffers, antibiotics, and cell wall protectants to help preserve the sperm quality and integrity while being chilled and shipped. We always check the semen again, after it has been extended, and show you the sample prior to shipment so you can see how it looks.
There are many different brands of extenders and some dogs do better with one versus another. If we have a semen sample that doesn’t seem to survive well in a particular extender, we will collect him and do a “semen trial.” We divide up his sample into different extenders, put it in the refrigerator overnight to simulate shipping and then examine the sample the next day to see which extender works the best for him.
The tube is then properly labeled with the dog’s name, owner’s name, date, breed and AKC number and securely packaged in a Styrofoam box containing ice packs. Paperwork is placed in the box displaying the quantity of semen and extender so the veterinarian receiving the semen knows the details of the sample they are using.
Requirements and Recommendations
AKC requires that all dogs used for chilled, extended semen have DNA numbers to register the litter. We can collect the DNA sample on the day of the collection (should the stud dog not have a number), fill out appropriate paperwork and mail to AKC.
We also highly recommend that all stud dogs have a negative Brucellosis test within 1 year of collecting and shipping chilled semen.
It is also recommended that the stud dog be collected and have a semen analysis done a week or so before the semen is needed. Prostate disease, the stress of showing, summer heat, or recent illnesses are some of the factors that may significantly decrease semen quality and/or quantity. Unless tested, the stud dog owner is unaware of the status of the dog’s semen. It is an inopportune moment at the time of shipment to discover that he is subfertile!
Please contact our office early when the recipient bitch starts her heat cycle so we can initiate communication with everyone involved. Good communication is the key to making the process run smoothly!