status of artificial insemination service in ethiopia

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Status of Artificial Insemination Service in Ethiopia

Desalegn G/Medhin1, b, Merga Bekana2, Azage Tegegne3, Kelay Belihu2

1 EMDTI; P.O.Box-1573, Debre Zeit, Ethiopia;; 2 AAU, Faculty of Vet. Med.; Debre Zeit, Ethiopia; 3 ILRI, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia


A study on reproductive performance of 18 artificial insemination (AI) bulls, which were in semen pro-duction during the study period and on the efficiency of AI operations were conducted at the National Artificial Insemination Center (NAIC) and in ten purposively selected areas of five regional states. The study was further conducted to assess problems and constraints associated with the AI service in Ethio-pia. Evaluations of number of services per conception and conception rates to first insemination were carried out. Pregnancy diagnosis was performed on 375 cows in the selected areas. Besides, 114 straws of semen comprising of 61 from regions and 53 from NAIC were checked for semen motility to see if there were any differences in motility due to handling between the center and the regions. Thirty AI technicians, 17 technical staff of NAIC and 246 farmers were used for the collection of data using ques-tionnaire surveys. Moreover, fifty-two high-level professionals who have stakes directly or indirectly in the area of AI service have participated in the focus group discussions in the five regions. Mean ( SE) scrotal circumference for Holstein, Jersey and crosses of Holstein with indigenous breeds at NAIC were 39.71 0.64, 41.00 1.16 and 39.00 1.00 respectively. The results did not differ (p>0.05) among the three breeds. Similarly, semen physio-morphological analysis revealed that there was no difference (P>0.05) for the different semen characteristics except for the total morphological defects which dif-fered significantly (P

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male, processed, stored, and artificially introduced into the female reproductive tract for the pur-pose of conception (Webb, 2003). Semen is collected from the bull, deep-frozen and stored in a container with Liquid Nitrogen at a temperature of minus 196 degrees Centigrade and made for use. Artificial insemination has become one of the most important techniques ever devised for the genetic improvement of farm animals. It has been widely used for breeding dairy cattle as the most valuable management practice available to the cattle producer and has made bulls of high genetic merit available to all (Webb, 2003; Bearden et al., 2004).

In Ethiopia, AI was introduced in 1938 in Asmara (the current capital city of Eritrea), the then part of Ethiopia, which was interrupted due to the 2nd World War and restarted in 1952 (Yemane et al., 1993). It was again discontinued due to unaffordable expenses of importing semen, liquid nitrogen and other related inputs requirement. In 1967, an independent service was started in the then Arsi Region, Chilalo Awraja under the Swedish International Development Agency (Sida). The technology of AI for cattle has been introduced at the farm level in the country over 35 years ago as a tool for genetic improvement (Zewdie et al., 2006). The present National Artificial Insemi-nation Center (NAIC) was established in 1984 to coordinate the overall AI operation at national level (GebreMedhin, 2005). The efficiency of the service in the country, however, has remained at a very low level due to infrastructure, managerial, and financial constraints, as well as poor heat detection, improper timing of insemination and embryonic death (Shiferaw et al., 2003).

Cattle breeding is mostly uncontrolled in Ethiopia making genetic improvement difficult and an appropriate bull selection criteria have not yet been established, applied and controlled (Tegegn et al., 1995). Although artificial insemination, the most commonly used and valuable biotechnol-ogy (Webb, 2003) has been in operation in Ethiopia for over 30 years, the efficiency and impact of the operation has not been well-documented (Himanen and Tegegn, 1998). Reproductive prob-lems related to crossbreed dairy cows under farmers conditions are immense (Bekele, 2005). It is widely believed that the AI service in the country has not been successful to improve reproductive performance of dairy industry (Sinishaw, 2005). From the previous little studies, it has been found that AI service is weak and even declining due to inconsistent service in the smallholder livestock production systems of the Ethiopian highlands (Dekeba et al., 2006). The problem is more aggra-vated by lack of recording scheme, wrong selection procedures, and poor management of AI bulls associated with poor motivations and skills of inseminators (GebreMedhin, 2005).

The objective of the study was, therefore, to assess the status of AI service in Ethiopia and identify problems and constraints associated with it; come up with pertinent and workable recommenda-tions that could call upon decision makers and stakeholders to give the utmost attention to the AI operation in the country.

2. Materials and methods

2.1. Study areas

The research was conducted at the NAIC and in ten selected areas of five regions, viz., Addis Ababa, Southern Nations Nationalities and Peoples Region, Oromia, Tigrai, and Amhara (Figure 1). The regions were arbitrarily selected as regions 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 starting from Addis Ababa (1) up to Amhara (5). All the study areas were purposively selected because these areas are the ones where AI service is widely practiced and they constitute wide range of agro- ecology.

The NAIC is the only place where semen is produced for use all over the country and is responsible for the coordination of AI operations in the country. During the research work, between August and October, 2007, 18 bulls were used for semen collection in the center.

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Figure 1. Illustration of the study areas

2.2. Study population

All the bulls, which were in use for semen production (n=18) and all animal science professionals (n=17) during the study period in the NAIC were involved in the study. Dairy farmers (n=246), dairy cows and heifers (n=375), and AI technicians (n=30) were also used. Moreover, animal health and animal production professionals in federal, regional, zonal and Woreda agriculture and rural development offices, NGOs, research centers, and academic institutions (n=52) were represented in the study population in the five regions.

2.3. Study design

A cross-sectional type of study supported by questionnaire survey, observation, focus group dis-cussion, and laboratory analysis of semen was carried out from August 2007 to June 2008.

2.4. Sample size determination and sampling procedures

Sample sizes were determined by the following formula (Thrusfield, 2005)

Total cows (n) = Z2 x p (1-p) d2 Where:

P (expected prevalence) = 0.5

d (desired absolute precision) = 0.05

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Z = 1.96.

Stratified sampling was used to determine the total number of farmers and cows for each region while systematic random sampling method was used to select cows and farmers within region. Table 1 depicts the summary of the number of cows, farmers and number of participants for focus group discussion in each study area during the research work.

Table -1: Distribution of farmers, cows, AITs, and FGD participants in the five regions

Region Woreda Sample size AITs Focus group discussionCows Farmers Number of

groupsNumber of

participantsNumber of

groupsNumber of par-

ticipantsAddis Ababa

Addis Ababa 87 83 6 6 1 9

SNNPR Dale 69 34 1 21 10Awassa 15 10 1 5

Oromia Tiyo 54 24 1 21 9Adaa 16 17 1 1

Tigrai Atsbi 15 16 1 41 10Mekelle 55 22 1 5

Amhara Fogera 36 12 1 3

1 14Bahir Dar Zuria

_ 14 1 1

Bahir Dar 28 14 1 1Total 375 246 15 30 5 52

AITs= artificial insemination technicians; FGD= focus group discussion

2.5. Data collection

2.5.1. Semen quality analysis and evaluation of bulls

Physical and retrospective evaluations of semen producing bulls at NAIC, physio-morphological assessment of semen in laboratory were conducted. All the 18 bulls were checked for locomatory and other physical situations at standing status, during sexual stimulation and during mount-ing. The bulls were graded as very good, good, or with hoof problem for locomatory organs while they were graded as very good, good, adequate, or poor for libido according to (Hansen, 2006). In grading locomatory status of bulls, the situation of hoof and moving ease was considered as crite-ria. A bull graded as very good in locomatory means he has no any type of hoof problem and can move and jump easily; good means that a bull has some untrimmed hooves but has no difficulty in jumping or moving; while a bull graded under hoof problem means that the bull has untrimmed hooves and lesions which seriously hinder his locomatory and jumping ease. The time elapsed until sexual desire is fully aroused has been taken as the criteria for grading libido of each bull. A bull showing libido in less than five minutes is graded as very good, in 5 minutes is graded as good, in 5 to 10 minutes is graded as Adequate, while a bull showing sexual desire 10 to 30 min-utes is graded as Poor. Scrotal measurement for all the 18 bulls was performed using a flexible scrotal circumference tape (Hansen, 2006).

Three consecutive semen collections once per week were performed in the NAIC to determine the semen quality of the bulls. The collection of semen was performed using artificial vagina a


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