Artificial Insemination

I’ve been using AI for almost a year now, after getting a video with Dr. Bob Cave from the American Budgerigar Society.

I’ve used AI to boost fertility when cocks were fearful, runners were too large, had no sperm, or hens were box-bound, had injuries, and so forth. I quickly discovered that the cock’s lack of sperm was the primary cause of infertility. I’ve read several papers on budgerigar fertility that discuss diet, vitamins, overcrowding, vent pruning, square perches, and a variety of other topics. All of these things are generally beneficial to budgies, therefore I agree we should do them, but they have nothing to do with egg fertility. All you need to achieve fertility is sperm injected correctly by AI, and the hen lays a proper egg. This viable egg is then nurtured for around three days.

I normally have 70 pairs set up at once. The chickens begin laying after around 10 days. I then look for sperm in the cock birds. I (and my friends) discovered that only 55% of cocks have sperm, which implies that only 55% of eggs are viable, assuming the cock has mated correctly.

If your hen produces tough, calcium-deficient eggs, you will not be fertile. These may begin viable but quickly become infertile because they are considerably too porous and readily let germs through. I apply Vetafarm Calcevet, a couple of drops directly to the beak, when a hen produces these permeable eggs. If the eggs do not improve, the hen is either too old or something is wrong with her system.

Male sperm can be “recycled,” according to an article in Budgerigar World (I believe) a few years ago, but I haven’t been able to locate it since. I discovered that some budgies produce sperm every day for a year. Others for one month, then not for three months, then twice for two months. On average, cocks have sperm for roughly 5 months out of the year. Budgie testicles are located deep inside the bird. There are tubes that transport the sperm to a location immediately below the anus, where it is kept until mating. This is how we can harvest sperm using a capillary tube. Because Hebron is harmful to sperm, the tube must be uncoated. You may be able to get them from your local pharmacy or hospital, but keep in mind that they are not Hebron coated. Please do not re-use these tubes; they are clean but not sterile.

Once you’ve practiced getting the sperm, it’s pretty simple, as long as there’s sperm to gather. You pull up from just beneath the anus with a gently squeezing action. If you don’t get sperm after around 6-7 squeezes, the cock most likely doesn’t have any to offer or has already used it. So check back tomorrow (early in the morning). I normally pick up about 7 p.m. after work. I wait for the first egg to hatch before checking the cock for sperm. If he has sperm, I gather it and give it to the hen in case the couple has not fully mated. I then write AI and the date on my box card. If the cock does not have sperm, I use the next best-suited cock with sperm and mark the card with the cock’s Ring No, AI, and the date. I can hear you questioning how you know who the father is. You use the same technique as when transferring an unrung chick. I feel that having the chick and not knowing the paternity is preferable than not having the chick at all.

It is not possible to place sperm on a hen’s tail and expect viable eggs to fall to the floor. Set up a pair in a box and get both birds in “laying mode.” If you want to place a cock over a couple of hens, set up a pair in one box and another hen in another box by herself or with an infertile cock. If you knew precisely when the hen was going to lay her first egg, she’d be bloated enough to AI her two days earlier. If you wanted to ensure that her first egg was viable.

If you want the second egg to be fertile, you must AI the hen the night after the first egg is laid. You will miss the second egg if you wait until the following day, but you will fertilize the third. The hen possesses “sperm storage” cells in which she may keep the sperm for up to 16 days. There is just a 15-minute window during which the egg may be fertilized before the white of the egg wraps around the yolk and the egg can no longer be fertilized. That is why it is critical that the hen’s sperm storage cells function properly. You just have approximately 5 minutes to blast the sperm into the hen via the tube before it loses viability. After around 10 minutes, the sperm will turn to clag and you will be unable to blow it out. I don’t examine the sperm under a microscope, but you could if you wanted to. Before you collect the sperm, remove all of the feathers from around the anus of the couple, particularly the ring of little feathers around the anus (called guide feathers by some), since these work like a magnet to sperm and once it’s in these, it’s impossible to get it out. To get the feces out of the hen, you stroke it beneath the anus. But make sure you get all of her feces out (make sure the anus is not facing you or you may cop the lot). You must take away the feces, particularly the urine portion, which is poisonous to sperm. Once you’re certain that all of the feces have been removed, apply pressure to the anus to open her up so you can see the moist pink piece within. Blow sperm from the capillary tube onto the pink bit. Allow the tail to fall, the anus will shut, and she will be returned to her box. If you have not removed all of the feces off the hen, she will generally hop on the perch and defecate, destroying the semen you had just placed.

In theory, you only need to AI once for 8 eggs. But I verified that AI worked by looking at the second egg three days after it was deposited. If the hen is not fertile, I will AI her again. “Why do I have the first egg fertile, the second egg infertile, and the third egg fertile?” you ask. Something is amiss with the sperm storage cells, or the sperm count has dropped. After approximately a year of collecting sperm, I can generally tell simply by glancing at the cock’s anus region. If the anus appears fat and elevated after the feathers are removed, he likely contains sperm. If the anus is level, you may be able to collect sperm from an old cock, or he may be able to obtain sperm at a later period. I’ve discovered that a cock with a depressed anus frequently lacks sperm and may never have it (so buyer beware).

It is significantly simpler to gather sperm with two persons. I normally collect by myself, using one hand to hold the cock’s head between the little and fourth fingers, and the thumb to arch the tail back. The second hand is used to pressure the anus, and since we don’t have another hand, I grip the capillary tube with my teeth. I take care not to obstruct the end with my tongue or anything else (and don’t suck back whatever you do), since this will prevent the automatic capillary action from working. On several instances, I have seen the cock’s sperm drying up as he begins feeding the chick; maybe this is to protect the chick from his father’s attack? If you want to continue utilizing cock sperm, you should remove the cock before he begins feeding the newborn chicks.

Some cocks may tremble or take what seems to be a fit in your hand. If you keep holding this bird, he will most likely die. This is known as “racing heart syndrome,” and it occurs when the bird is afraid. Its heart begins to beat at around 10 times the usual pace, causing the heart to fail to fill with blood, resulting in no blood going to the brain. You can’t use AI on this bird until you can quiet it down. I’ve observed that chickens are not affected by this illness.

When AI is done properly, it results in 100% fertility. I’m not sure why AI is prohibited in England. For twelve years, I was a Councillor and Mayor of the City of Williamstown, and the CEO urged that we never pass a legislation (ban) that could not be enforced. AI is a common method among cattle ranchers. It is used with cattle and sheep, as well as in the poultry business. A semen dilution medium seems to be necessary for effective insemination of the bigger parrot. When this is achieved in the laboratory, one may envision how the rarer, endangered kinds might be preserved.

There is little question that AI must be used with caution; it should not be used to place one cock over 1000 hens, since this may result in the correction of highly undesirable qualities. However, it is highly desired when attempting to rapidly establish your own line of budgies, as it enables you to have many related birds in the first year, not to mention producing from that fantastic cock, who cannot mate due to an injury to a foot, etc.

Once the sperm can be preserved and reconstituted, the greatest birds in the world will be within everyone’s grasp (rich and poor). A catalogue with a photo and description of the bulls is available in the cattle sector. The sperm is then sent to you for about $50. Can you image having the ability to utilize the greatest birds in the world for your next mating? However, for the time being, the only way you can utilize a cock bird that you do not own is to check if the person who has a suitable cock for your hen would be willing to accept a stud fee. Take your hen to his aviary the day she lays her first egg and AI her there.

Capillary tubes and certain tissues are the sole instruments necessary for AI.

The Do’s for AI.

  • Check that the birds are in laying mode (both cock and hen paired up until the hen lays her first egg).
  • AI at least 36 hours before the hen’s next egg is due.
  • Pluck all of the feathers around the anus.
  • Before inseminating the hen, make sure all feces have been removed.
  • Urine is poisonous to sperm, thus it should be wiped away.
  • Keep track of which cock was used and when she was inseminated.
  • If you want to ensure fertility, use AI every day.
  • When he has sperm, utilize a cock since it might be 6-12 months before he has sperm again.
  • If you desire fertility, use AI on those enormous buff chickens.

The Don`ts

  • Allow the sperm to sit in the tube for more than 5 minutes.
  • Hebron coated capillary tubes should not be used since Hebron is harmful to sperm.
  • Recycle tubes.
  • Cover or obstruct the capillary tube ends.

When I gave several AI speeches, some individuals were really nasty and attempted to attack me. As I have said several times, I am not advocating AI. As I was invited to write this paper, I was asked to give speeches on AI. I’m hoping that folks who don’t use AI will allow me to produce at least 50%nbsp;more chicks from my bigger buff chickens, who normally lay clear eggs. I will be able to legally import sperm after the freezing process has been mastered. While others who do not utilize AI will continue to wait for the import prohibition to be repealed.

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