An Invention for Easy Semen Collection from Camels
El-Hassanein Camel Dummy.
E. E. El-Hassanein
Maryout Research Station, Desert Research Center; BO Box: 11753 El-Mataryia, Cairo, Egypt.
A camel dummy of similar features and size of the kneeled female camel has been devised and tested in the artificial insemination (AI) center of Maryout Research Station, Desert Research Center. Using this dummy for semen collection improved the collection process, quantity and quality of collected semen. Principles and designing of the dummy, in addition to the obtained advantages, are fully discussed.
This invention is expected to be a revolutionary helpful tool for many specialists interested in camel reproduction and artificial insemination.
Keywords: Dromedary camels; Reproduction; Semen collection; AI; Camel Dummy.
The low reproductive performance is one of the most important factors affecting camel productivity (Novoa, 1970; Elwishy, 1987). In Egypt, the breeding season of male dromedary camels is restricted to about three months (from late November to early March). Since female camels demonstrate continuous oestrus, they are ready for insemination at any time, provided ovulation is properly induced (Williamson and Payne, 1987). Camels offer more advantage than some other livestock for the use of AI technique (Chaudhary, 1995). Development of an artificial insemination system, in combination with a successful synchronization of oestrus and induction of females ovulation, is necessary for applying selection programs and rapid genetic improvement of Egyptian camels. Artificial insemination in combination with synchronization of oestrus and induction of ovulation offers great benefit for AI in camels (Chaudhary, 1995). A well-equipped center for applying AI programs is recently (1999) established in Maryout Research Station which belongs to Desert Research Center Ministry of Agriculture and Land Reclamation.
Semen collection from male camels is complicated by their natural copulatory behavior, i.e., copulation with females in the kneeling position. The long duration of copulation and the dripping ejaculation are also two additional difficulties in the process of semen collection from camels. During the breeding season, camel semen was collected in our AI center by electroejaculation or by using an artificial vagina (AV) and a female teaser. Using these two nowadays techniques for semen collection from camels demonstrated many disadvantages and was not reliable for developing an AI system for dromedary camels. It was needed to devise and construct a camel dummy for easy and reliable semen collection from camels. Bravo et al. (1997b) pointed out that collection of alpaca semen by an AV mounted inside a dummy is more natural and reliable than the other methods.
An account is given on semen collection from camels either by using the two nowadays techniques or by the newly invented camel dummy.
Semen Collection from Camels
During the last two breeding seasons, camel semen was collected, in our AI center, either by electroejaculation or by using an AV and a female teaser.
(A)- Electroejaculation of Camel Semen:
For collection by an electroejaculator, the male camel is kneeled and his front legs are tied to the shoulder and neck (Fig. 1 A& B). The male is forced to turn on the side and his hind legs are tied together (from the shin region) to facilitate receiving semen in the rubber cone and collection tube. Collection may be done with or without sedation with detomidine hydrochloride (30-35 μg/Kg B.W., i.v., or 70-80 μg/Kg B.W., i.m.). A bovine probe (2) is introduced rectally, after lubrication with jelly, and two electric impulses (each of about 12 volts and 180 mA) are applied for about 10-15 seconds each time with a rest of 2-3 minutes in between. Ejaculation often occurs after about 15 minutes of manipulation. Obtained semen by electroejaculation is often less in volume and has poor quality due to the short duration of its ejaculation.
Fig. (1): Preparing the male camel for semen collection by electroejaculation. (A): Tightening of front legs to the neck and hind legs from the shin region. (B): Turning the male on his side
Applying electroejaculation for semen collection from the male camels has many disadvantages, such as: -
It consumes a lot of time and effort for semen collection from many male camels in the same day.
It may needs sedation or general anesthesia of the animal.
Restraining of the male camel needs about 7 persons.
Forcing the male camel to kneel, tightening his legs and removing ties may cause bleeding injuries and even fractures for the male.
It causes the male to be coward and afraid from any person coming close to him.
Repeated electroejaculation causes inability of male to normal mounting.
Semen collected by electroejaculation is often less in volume and contains high percentage of dead and tailless spermatozoa. It may also be contaminated with urine.
Because of the above-mentioned disadvantages of applying electroejaculation, it can be advised to apply this technique only under certain circumstances, such as: -
If collection by AV cannot be achieved.
For collection of semen from highly vigorous males which may endanger the collection process.
For collection of semen from males of low reproductive potential, i. e. having week libido.
For collection of semen from males having certain physical problems which unable them to mount normally.
For collection of semen from certain males out of the breeding season.
(B)- Collection of Camel Semen Using an AV and a Female Teaser:
Collection of semen from male camels using an AV is also applied in AI center of Maryout Res. Station. A bovine AV with a length of about 40 cm is used satisfactorily for collection from adult males (above 10 years age). However, for collection from younger males (less than 10 years age), it is needed to use an AV of about 30 35 cm length. The jacket of the AV is filled with water warmed to about 55 60o C. The hind region of AV, in addition to the rubber cone and the collection tube are always covered with a black rubber sheath to protect the collected semen against light. For collection, using an AV, a teaser female camel is kneeled in the collection yard with her fore legs tied to the neck and the hind legs are tied to the hip (Fig. 2 A, B& C).
Fig. (2): Collection using an AV and a female teaser. (A)- Protection of the technician during male copulation. (B)- Protrusion of camel penis. (C)- Directing penis to AV and collection.
To collect semen from untreated males, using an AV, it is indispensable to use a teaser she-camel in heat. However, for collection from previously well-trained males it is not needed to collect semen using a female camel in heat. In AI center of Maryout Res. Station, the well-trained males mount directly on the teaser whether she is in heat or not. During the breeding season, collection from male camels is always carried out at night (at about 20:00). It is amazingly that when rutter males in their separate pens (close to the collection yard) notice lightening of the collection yard and kneeling of the teaser female, they start to gurgle continuously, foaming saliva and rhythmically beaten their penis with the tail. This means that males get ready for semen collection. When the door of the male pen is opened, he goes directly towards the collection yard and moves over the kneeled female until his front legs are on either sides of her shoulder. The male starts to flex all joints of his hind legs to sit behind the female, putting his fore legs on her back and pushing himself forward. The penis then starts to protrude searching for the vulval cleft of the teaser. Then, the technician sits beside the female hind leg and starts to direct the penis into the AV by deviating the prepuce with gentle pressure. The male camel ejaculates in successive fractions during series of penile strokes, which are moderated with rest phases. Copulation often lasts within about 5 15 minutes. After copulation, the male slips sideways off the teaser female and goes directly to his pen. It is essential to mention here that using the same female camel as a teaser for collection from 2 3 males in the same night causes incised bleeding wounds in the back of the female (in the region from hump to hip). These wounds need about two weeks to heal.
Collection of camel semen using an AV and a she-camel as a teaser has many disadvantages, such as: -
Tightening and removing of ties from the teaser female may cause bleeding injuries for the female.
Collection from more than one male using the same female teaser in the same night often causes incised bleeding wounds in the female back. These wounds need about 2 weeks to heal.
It is uneconomic to keep several females without breeding to be used for semen collection.
Sitting of the technician beside the female hind legs to direct the penis into the AV often excites the male during mounting.
It is difficult for the technician to sit besides the hind region of the teaser female for about 15 minutes keeping his arm in a fixed position to receive the ejaculate during the long duration of copulation.
The technician is usually exposed to biting from vigorous males during copulation. At least three persons are needed to protect the technician against sudden biting. In most cases, the male camel is excited due to the presence of many persons in the collection yard and may slips sideways off the teaser without completing ejaculation.
Principles and designing of El-Hassanein Camel Dummy
Because of the above-mentioned disadvantages of using a female camel as a teaser for semen collection, it was essential to device a tool for collection of camel semen without using a teaser she-camel. It was needed to design the dummy inside which AV is mounted in the same position as vagina of the teaser female. The dummy must have the same shape and size of a kneeled female camel. The dummy must be designed of a strong iron skeleton, with a hollow core, to stand the weight of the rutted male (about 400 500 kg) during copulation. The iron skeleton must be covered with a strong smooth wooden sheath taking the same symmetrical shape of the normal female camel. The entire dummy surface, in addition to the head and neck should be covered with a camel hide prepared well for that purpose Fig. (3).
Fig. (3): A hind view for the dummy to indicate its external feature and the mounted AV.
The dummy was also designed to have movable head and neck. Four strong springs are fixing the neck to
the dummy body in order to facilitate movement of the neck (with the head) into up to down and right to left directions. These movements can excite the male camel during copulation and give good results of ejaculation. Taking into consideration that copulation of camels takes place in a sitting position, the designed dummy must be fixed on the floor of the collection yard and as a ceiling for a small laboratory (Fig. 4). The technician stays in that small laboratory (underneath the dummy) to exchange AV from one male to the other and to carry out rapid evaluation and partial extension of the collected semen. Partially diluted semen is then transferred to the main laboratory, close to the collection yard, for completing semen processing (equilibration and freezing).
Fig. (4): A diagrammatic drawing for the dummy and the
small lab underneath.
Collection of camel semen using the invented dummy
Eight rutted camels of about 7 years age were used for semen collection at two days intervals. They were well trained for semen collection using a teaser female for two consecutive rutting seasons. On the day of collection, the small lab, underneath the dummy, is equipped with a water bath adjusted at 38oC, a photometer previously calibrated for measuring camel semen concentration and a microscope completed with a heating stage and a control unit with a warming plate both adjusted at 40oC. A modified AV of about 30 cm length and 5 cm inner diameter is filled with water at 55-60oC (Bravo et al., 2000). The authors placed a foam imitation cervix, of about 8 cm in length, inside the AV to stimulate ejaculation and they inserted an additional disposable plastic inner liner to avoid contact of semen with the rubber material. Moreover, we used a collection tube completed with a glass funnel to be directly fixed to the AV without using a rubber cone for the same reason of using the disposable plastic inner liner. Musa et al. (1992) recommended direct ejaculation of camel semen into the graduated collection vessel and/or insertion of a plastic jacket inside the inner liner to avoid the deleterious effect of rubber on camel spermatozoa. The collecting tube is water-jacketed (38-40oC) to keep the tube warm during the long duration of ejaculation (Fig. 5).
Fig. (5): Internal view for the dummy indicating themounted AV with a water-jacketed collection tube.
As the rutted male enters the lightened collection yard, he starts to gurgle and moving around the dummy several times before flexing joints of his hind legs and sitting on the hind region of the dummy keeping his fore legs on either sides of its shoulder (Fig. 6 A& B).
Fig. (6): A rutted male camel in full action with the dummy. (A)- The male stands on the dummy and starts to flex joints of his hind legs to sit on the dummy. (B)- The male adjusted himself behind the dummy.
The Copulating male camel starts to direct and introduce his penis into the warmed AV (fig. 7). After intromission of penis, the male carries out several phases of movement (strokes) and rest throughout the long duration of copulation with continuous foaming saliva and grinding his teeth giving a noisy sound. During male ejaculation, the screw movement of the glans penis can be easily observed in the collection tube funnel from the lab underneath the dummy. The glans penis of the camel is curved along its vertical plane taking a hook shape and ends in a cartilaginous process which supposedly directs the penis through the cervix of the female during copulation (Bravo et al., 2000).
Fig. (7): Intromission of the male penis into AV of the dummy.
Comparing Results of the Invented Dummy.
Semen of the dromedary camels is highly viscous and whitish or grayish-white in color depending on the concentration and the amount of gelatinous material in the ejaculate. The problem of high viscosity of collected llamoid semen was overcome by using hydrolytic enzymes, such as trypsin at 1:250, for liquefaction of semen (Bravo et al., 1997b). Allowing semen to stand for about 30 minutes in water bath may attain partial liquefaction of semen and hence sperm motility. When we add 1-2 ml. of the warmed extender to the collection tube before collection the quality of the collected semen was significantly improved.
The results obtained by using the invented camel dummy for collection of camel semen are illustrated table (1).
Table (1): Comparing results obtained by the three techniques of semen collection from camels in LAIET-DRC*.
Method of Collection
Improvement (%) obtained by using El-Hassanein Camel Dummy
AV & Teaser
From Electro- Ejaculation
From AV& Teaser Technique
Copulation duration (min.).
Ejaculate Volume (ml.).
Dead sperms (%).
Abnormal sperms (%).
Abnormal acrosome (%).
* LAIET-DRC: Laboratory of AI & ET of Desert Research Center. AV: Artificial Vagina.
Using the camel dummy for semen collection improved the collection process in our AI center. Rutted males copulated naturally with the dummy without needing any help from the technician who stays in the lab underneath the dummy throughout the collection period for exchanging AV and to carry out rapid evaluation and partial dilution of the collected semen. Duration of male copulation with the dummy (20 45 min) was increased by about three folds as compared with that obtained by using a female teaser for collection (5 12 min). Abdel-Raouf and El-Naggar (1964) and Joshi et al. (1980) stated that copulation lasts on an average for about 11 24 min. Recently, Bravo et al. (2000) recorded a copulation duration of about 5 10 min. Collection of semen using a female teaser usually needs about three persons in the collection area to protect the technician who stays close to the hind legs of the teaser for receiving semen. This may excites the copulating male and causes the male to slip down the teaser without completing copulation. The remarkable elongation of coitus duration with the dummy may reflects the acceptance of the rutted males to mount naturally with the well-devised dummy. Collection of alpaca semen by an AV mounted inside a dummy was found to be natural and reliable than the other methods of collection (Bravo et al., 1997b).
Elongation of copulation duration with the dummy improved the obtained ejaculate volume (17.75 ml). Some males exhibited high libido and normally spend about 45 min. of copulation with the dummy giving more than 27 ml. of semen. Such a rutted male must take a rest of collection for at least two days to avoid his exhausting. Comparing results obtained by using the camel dummy revealed that ejaculate volume was improved by about four folds as compared with that obtained by using electroejaculation (3.56 ml) or by about one and half folds of the obtained volume by using a female teaser (6.87 ml). The obtained ejaculate volume for semen collected by electroejaculation was relatively similar to that (3.9 ml) obtained by Tingari et al. (1987) and Bravo et al. (2000).
The volume of semen collected by AV and a female teaser was found in literatures to be relatively variable. Abdel-Raouf and El-Naggar (1976) reported an ejaculate volume of about 8.5 ml. Taha Ismail (1988) and Bravo et al. (2000) recorded an ejaculate volume of about 7.5 ml. Wilson (1984) reported a range of camel ejaculate volume of about 5 22 ml. However, Billah and Skidmore (1992) recorded a lesser range of about 2 8 ml. The wide range of the obtained ejaculate volume may be related to variation in libido between males and/or to the condition of collection process in the collection area.
Sperm concentration in semen delivered by electroejaculation was about 320 x 106/ml. Bravo et al. (2000) obtained a similar value (330 x 106/ml) by using electroejaculation. For semen collected by AV and a female teaser, variable values of sperm concentration were found in literatures. Billah and Skidmore (1992) reported a range of 256 440 million/ml. Bravo et al. (2000) obtained a concentration of about 325 million/ml. A higher concentration value of about 763 x 106/ml. was reported by Abdel-Raouf and El-Naggar (1976). In our AI center, we obtained a sperm concentration of about 370 million/ml. in camel semen collected by AV and a female teaser. Using the camel dummy for semen collection improved sperm concentration values obtained by electroejaculation and by using AV and a teaser by about 166 and 130% of the original values, respectively. Improvement of sperm concentration in semen collected by using the camel dummy may be due to the elongation of copulation duration with the dummy.
Sperm motility in semen collected by using the camel dummy was also improved as compared with that in semen collected by the other two nowadays techniques. Sperm motility was increased by about 88% and 33% from values obtained in semen collected by electroejaculation and by AV and a teaser, respectively. A noticeable improvement in the other quality parameters of semen collected by the camel dummy was also found. Percentage of dead sperms, abnormal sperms and abnormal acrosomes, in semen collected by the dummy, each of which was decreased by about 50 52% and 39 43% from the obtained percentage in semen collected by electroejaculation and by using AV and a teaser, respectively. These results were disagreed with that obtained by Tingari et al. (1987), Taha Ismail (1988) and Merkt et al. (1990) who pointed out that volume of semen recovered by electroejaculation was usually less than that collected by AV, but the other serum parameters were similar. Improvement in concentration, motility, alive cells and sperm and acrosome abnormalities, in semen collected by the dummy, may be related to the long duration of copulation with the dummy in addition to the modification made for receiving semen directly in the glass vessel.
From the above-mentioned results, it can be noticed that the obtained values of quality for semen delivered by using the camel dummy exceeds the remarkable limits of good quality semen reliable for AI. Tingari et al. (1987), Taha Ismail (1988), Merkt et al. (1990) and Musa et al. (1992) pointed out that camel semen to be used for AI should have at least sperm concentration of 321 325 million/ml. and sperm motility of 49.7 50.5%. Dead sperms and abnormal sperms and acrosomes not exceed 18 19%, 27.4 27.7% and 8.1 8.5%, respectively.
In conclusion, the devising and constructing of the camel dummy was very essential to overcome many behavioral constraints of collecting camel semen. The designed dummy proved to have a strong steel skeleton giving enough protection for the technician underneath. Features of the dummy and the hide covered with fur, in addition to the movable head and neck amazingly attract the rutted males for natural mating. Designing the dummy and the lab underneath facilitates rapid exchanging of AV from one male to the other and rapid evaluation and partial extension of the delivered semen. Using the camel dummy improved the collection process in our AI center and improved the quantity and quality of the delivered semen to be reliable for applying AI programs to improve camel reproduction and productivity.
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