Using sensors to improve sheep AI

AWI and University of Sydney investigate sensor use in sheep

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Photo: Kelly Butterworth

Photo: Kelly Butterworth

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Research is underway in this field.

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The University of Sydney and AWI will investigate the use of sensor technology to determine more precise ewe ovulation and adjust artificial insemination programs.

Not only could the new technology allow for less semen wastage, but University of Sydney associate professor Simon de Graaf predicted it could also help increase AI success rates.

During trials, both rams and wethers with testosterone were fitted with Bluetooth accelerometer tags on their ears, neck or back to monitor any mounting movements.

This was matched with video footage.

"Whilst it remains to be seen, could we potentially increase our success in AI or at least reduce the number of failures which occur by maybe adjusting AI time to each individual ewe?" Mr de Graaf said.

"So if you knew exactly when each ewe was going to ovulate and you know you are going to get your best results if you put that semen in an hour or so before she does, then you could potentially draft beforehand based on ovulation time and AI accordingly."

It is hoped the research could also be used to detect the mating success of rams.

The amount of mounting recorded on the sensors would be analysed in correlation with the number of lambs they later bred.

"We are trying to prove that the rams that we are see are mounting all the time are producing," Mr de Graaf said.

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