Urine Trouble: Freezing Contaminated Stallion Semen

Ejaculate with less than 20% urine contamination might be suitable for freezing without centrifugation.
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Urine Trouble: Freezing Contaminated Stallion Semen
Ejaculate with less than 20% urine contamination might be suitable for freezing without centrifugation. | Photo: Courtesy Sandro Barbacini

Urospermia, or urine in semen, is one of the most frequent ejaculate dysfunctions in stallions. It can diminish semen quality and conception rates. Sometimes, however, all veterinarians have to work with are contaminated semen samples. So, when is it okay to freeze that ejaculate for future use?

Robyn Ellerbrock, DVM, Dipl. ACT, a PhD candidate at the University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign’s Department of Veterinary Clinical Medicine, sought to answer this question in a recent study. She presented her results at the 2017 American Association of Equine Practitioners convention, held Nov. 17-21 in San Antonio, Texas.

Urospermia can occur for several reasons, ranging from neurologic conditions to hyperkalemic periodic paralysis (HYPP, a genetic muscle disease of Quarter Horses and related breeds). But the most frequently seen and most frustrating cases, said Ellerbrock, are those that are intermittent and idiopathic, meaning they have no known cause

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Alexandra Beckstett, a native of Houston, Texas, is a lifelong horse owner who has shown successfully on the national hunter/jumper circuit and dabbled in hunter breeding. After graduating from Duke University, she joined Blood-Horse Publications as assistant editor of its book division, Eclipse Press, before joining The Horse. She was the managing editor of The Horse for nearly 14 years and is now editorial director of EquiManagement and My New Horse, sister publications of The Horse.

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