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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Sperm Storage in the Hen's Oviduct

Authors
item Bakst, Murray
item Long, Julie
item Zuelke, Kurt

Submitted to: Feedinfo.com
Publication Type: Trade Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: February 25, 2004
Publication Date: April 2, 2004
Citation: Bakst, M.R. Sperm Storage in the Hen's Oviduct. Feedinfo News Service http://www.feedinfo.com/console/PageViewer.aspx?page=76347, 2004.

Interpretive Summary: The commercial turkey industry relies exclusively on artificial insemination (AI) for fertile egg production. Artificial insemination involves semen collection from toms and its transfer into the hen's vagina. It is labor intensive as the birds must be handled at least once per week for semen collection and insemination during the 7-month egg-production period. When one considers that toms average 70 lbs and that hen houses typically contain several thousand birds, it is easy to see why weekly AI's are labor and time consuming. With current storage methods, the fertilizing capacty of turkey semen is diminished after just 8 hr of storage. In contrast, the hen sequesters sperm in the oviduct in specialized structures known as sperm storage tubules (SST). In the turkey hen, sperm released from the SST retain a high fertilizing capacity (>96% fertile eggs) for at least 7 days (hence the weekly AI schedule), and SST-stored sperm can still fertilize ova for up to 2 months after insemination. Characterizing the cellular and molecular mechanisms associated with oviductal sperm storage in the hen should provide insight for the development of improved and novel methods of storing poultry semen in vitro.for periods up to 48 hr. Integral to developing such methods is a fundamental understanding of the physiology of in vivo storage mechanisms in the hen's SST.

Technical Abstract: The commercial turkey industry relies exclusively on artificial insemination (AI) for fertile egg production. Artificial insemination involves semen collection from toms and its transfer into the hen's vagina. It is labor intensive as the birds must be handled at least once per week for semen collection and insemination during the 7-month egg-production period. When one considers that toms average 70 lbs and that hen houses typically contain several thousand birds, it is easy to see why weekly AI's are labor and time consuming. With current storage methods, the fertilizing capacty of turkey semen is diminished after just 8 hr of storage. In contrast, the hen sequesters sperm in the oviduct in specialized structures known as sperm storage tubules (SST). In the turkey hen, sperm released from the SST retain a high fertilizing capacity (>96% fertile eggs) for at least 7 days (hence the weekly AI schedule), and SST-stored sperm can still fertilize ova for up to 2 months after insemination. Characterizing the cellular and molecular mechanisms associated with oviductal sperm storage in the hen should provide insight for the development of improved and novel methods of storing poultry semen in vitro.for periods up to 48 hr. Integral to developing such methods is a fundamental understanding of the physiology of in vivo storage mechanisms in the hen's SST.

Last Modified: 12/22/2014
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