Artificial Insemination

Training Farmers to Breed Sheep

April 14, 2015

Artificial insemination (AI) has become widely popular in breeding livestock, because it allows farmers to make faster genetic improvement in their animals, enhance biosecurity, and decrease breeding related costs of production. Despite these benefits, some farmers are hesitant to use sheep breeding because sheep have a complex reproductive anatomy. Farmer Don Brown and Dr. Craig Zimmerly received an NCR-SARE Farmer Rancher grant to test the success rate of AI and share information on AI techniques in sheep.

In conjunction with their grant, Brown and Zimmerly studied the intravaginal insemination method. They used three flocks of various breeds of sheep for study. The team utilized ewe synchronization to ensure that all of the flocks were in estrus at the same time. They collected semen with either an artificial vagina or through electroejactulation and then tested to ensure that it was viable and appropriately concentrated. They did ultrasounds on ewes approximately 40 days post insemination, and preliminary results indicated that the conception rate was 50-70 percent on each farm. As the team became more experienced they were able to complete the procedure more efficiently and productively. Farmers whose flocks were utilized for the experiment were taught the insemination process.

Information about the study and technique has been spread through workshops, conferences, and social media. An enthusiastic Brown said, “A farmer can do this himself – he doesn’t have to have a technician to do this … You can do it yourself!”


View a presentation on this project, from the 2014 Farmers Forum, through NCR-SARE's YouTube playlist. Visit for this and other videos.

Want more information? See the related SARE grant:

Topics: Animal Production, Animal Protection and Health, Livestock, Livestock Breeding, Sheep
Related Locations: North Central