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Research Project: Use of FLIR (Forward-looking Infrared Imaging Systems) for Detection of Ovulation in Sheep

Location: Plant and Animal Genetic Resources Preservation

Project Number: 3012-31000-006-12-N
Project Type: Non-Funded Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Feb 2, 2017
End Date: Jan 1, 2019

Objective:
To investigate the use of FLIR (forward-looking infrared imaging systems) for detection of ovulation in sheep and to incorporate this into our non-surgical artificial insemination technique using frozen-thawed ram semen. Development of this technique will enable producers to better approximate the time of ovulation in sheep during a synchronized estrous and determine an optimal time to perform non-surgical artificial insemination. Consequently, greater fertility should be achieved when a timed artificial insemination is performed. This will provide the National Animal Germplasm Program and sheep producers with a more efficient and cost effective method for utilizing repository samples, and encourage the development of a frozen ram semen industry in the U.S.

Approach:
Ram semen will be collected and cryopreserved. The estrous cycle of ewes will be synchronized. Vulvar and rectal temperatures of ewes will be determined using FLIR technologies. The ewes will then be inseminated at designated times with frozen-thawed ram semen. The non-return to estrous rate, the pregnancy rate, and the prolificacy rate (number of lambs born per ewe lambing) will be determined. The results will be analyzed to determine the optimal insemination time with a synchronized estrous and to determine the predictive ability of the FLIR technology to approximate the time of ovulation. The optimized techniques will be incorporated in the National Animal Germplasm Program SOPs and disseminated to sheep producers.