Dr Michelle Ledger.
Prof. Peter Sandøe- Centre for Companion Animal Welfare Copenhagen University.
Dr Madeleine Campbell- Royal Veterinary College.
Data supports that commercial constraints and economic factors do not speak against a more welfare-friendly approach in TCI vs SI.
Greyhound racing in Australasia is predominantly based on the breeding of racing greyhounds via the use of frozen semen artificial insemination (AI). A study found that 66% of all whelpings and 72% of all puppies were produced via frozen semen AI1.
Females are artificially inseminated using one of two methods: Trans-cervical insemination (TCI) or surgical intra-uterine insemination (SI).
The practice of SI is widespread in Australasian greyhound breeding2.
There are many commercial and other constraints affecting the choice of insemination method i.e., service returns.
SI is a highly invasive surgical technique, requiring a general anaesthetic and the uterus to be exteriorized and thawed semen to be injected, via a catheter, directly into the uterine horns3,4.
Complications in the SI group may include:
- Anaesthetic complications4
- Surgical complications
- Post-surgical complications
- No literature investigates complication rates during SI10.
TCI requires use of a specialised intra-uterine endoscope, which can visualize the cervix and allow a thin catheter to be passed through the cervix in order to deposit semen into the uterus5,6.
TCI complications may include endometritis and pyometra, although no authors described these events in recent literature. It is thought that correct timing of the procedure during oestrus may eliminate these complications4.
No complications were noted during or after insemination using TCI (n=40)4 although, on occasion sedation is required3.
In some countries, surgical insemination has been deemed illegal or widely considered unethical5,10.
Sweden has banned SI as a procedure out of duty of care, where alternative methods exist10.
The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) UK8: February 2019: 27.30 Surgical Artificial Insemination (AI) is prohibited by UK animal welfare legislation which legally restricts mutilations to animals, ie procedures which interfere with sensitive tissue or bone structure, as it is not a procedure exempt within the relevant regulations for the UK jurisdictions set out in paragraph 27.2 (a-d).
Theoretically both SI and TCI should yield similar conception rates as semen is deposited intra-uterine2,12.
Overall whelping rates of 75 % are possible with frozen semen AI6.Rates in greyhounds of up to 87.5 % have been described using TCI7.
Factors found to affect whelping rates include semen type, dose and motility; age of female; breed; and timing of insemination2,10,11,12
The research project aims to demonstrate significant differences in decision making and welfare outcomes between TCI and SI, while industry performance metrics remain similar.
Greyhounds Australasia (GA) registered AI technicians will be surveyed to consider their choice of AI method, in conjunction with the economic or industry limitations which may influence their choice of method.
GA breeding data will be analysed to study the economic performance metrics achieved by registered AI technicians as well as the age and parity distribution of breeding females.
A literature review will discuss the ethico-legal factors associated with these two methods.
- Quantitative Industry Data sampling: All breeding data from the GA National Data Repository (NDR) 2010-2020.
- Quantitative Survey sampling: JISC on-line survey all GA registered AI technicians.
- Literature review and ethico-legal analysis.
1. Industry Data measures 2010-2020: Commercial indices
- The number of inseminations resulting in live whelps per AI facility (whelping rates)
- The number of inseminations resulting in nil whelps per facility (missed %)
- Total numbers of litters produced per breeding female (parity)
- The relative ages of breeding females when inseminated (demographic data)
2. Survey measures: Welfare outcomes, economic factors/ limitations affecting choices
- Type of AI most frequently used
- Reasons/ limitations motivating choice of method
- Semen quality checked prior to insemination and number spermatozoa inseminated
- Frequency of complications
- Pain relief and/or antibiotics provided
- Length of procedures
- Follow up care
1. Newell, J. F. (2006)1380–1383.
2. Hollinshead, F. K. et al. (2017) Theriogenology (2017).
3. Hayashi, K. et al. (2013) J. Vet. Med. Sci. 75, 315–318.
4. Mason, S. J. & Rous, N. R. (2014) Theriogenology 82, 844–850.
5. Mason, S. J. A (2017) Reprod. Domest. Anim. 52, 275–280.
6. Steckler, D. (2017) PhD, University of Pretoria.
7. Pretzer, et al. (2006) Theriogenology, 65(6), pp. 1029–1036.
8. Dogs NSW Magazine (2019) online at: https://www.dogsnsw.org.au/media/2607/breeding-tci-in-bitchesvet-chatseptember-2019-magazine.pdf
9. RCVS news update 2019 found at: https://www.rcvs.org.uk/news-and-views/features/standards-and-advice-update-january-2019/
10. England et al., (2008) Reprod. Domest. Anim., vol. 43, no. SUPPL.2, pp. 165–171.
11. Burgess, D., et al. (2012) Aust. Vet.J., 90(8), pp. 283–290.
12. Thomassen, R. et al. (2006) Theriogenology 66, 1645–1650.