Breeding Globally–AI Advances

Breeding without boundaries; it sounds like science fiction. Yet today we can breed two animals from different time zones, even different continents, through advances in artificial insemination. In this article, we will delv
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Breeding without boundaries; it sounds like science fiction. Yet today we can breed two animals from different time zones, even different continents, through advances in artificial insemination. In this article, we will delve into the present and future of this advancing technology, discussing how it can be used for the convenience of owners and the betterment of breeds.

But first, a little history…


Artificial insemination (AI) is the collection of semen from a male, usually of superior genetic merit, and its transfer into an ovulating female to achieve fertilization. It is practiced in numerous mammals including humans, livestock, and exotic zoological species. It has a long history, with the first reputed use being in the 14th Century. However, significant development of the technique did not occur until the end of the 19th Century, when it was first used commercially in Russian horses.


Before horse AI could become widely established, the advent of the combustion engine and the subsequent decline in horse population drove AI research toward use in other livestock. Although some countries continued their interest in equine AI on a small scale, many concentrated on bovine, ovine, and porcine AI with their greater earning potential. The upsurge in interest in equine AI during the last 20 years has been a reflection of the increase in horse numbers along with the developing leisure interest in equestrian activities and the realization of the economic advantages of AI.


Despite this recent increase in interest, equine AI is still a developing technology that has yet to reach the sophistication of cattle AI

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Written by:

Mina Davies Morel, PhD, is head of the equine group at the Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences at Aberystwyth University in the United Kingdom. She has particular interest in equine reproductive physiology and its application to stud management, and she is the author of a number of scientific papers and text books on the subject. She is a leisure rider and owner of Welsh Cob Section Ds.

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