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Artificial Insemination for Goats

Artificial Insemination is not even close to the leading edge of technology any more, but for most of us, it is as close as we are going to come. There are many excellent reasons to learn to AI. For one thing, an AI tank doesn’t tear down your fences and smell up your living room! Even if you are breeding by AI, though, you have to have a reliable way to tell when your does are in heat. For many people, that still means at least borrowing a buck for the girls to flirt with.

To learn AI you will need the following equipment:

  • A semen tank.
  • Semen.
  • A microscope is very handy to check the viability of the semen on the spot.
  • At least two large and two small speculums. A speculum looks like a test tube with a hole in both ends. It works kind of like a funnel to get your AI gun into the doe’s vagina.
  • An AI light so you can see what you are doing.
  • Straw tweezers to hold the straw of semen.
  • A thermos or a thaw can to thaw the straw of semen in.
  • A thermometer for the water in your thaw can.
  • A straw cutter to get the end off the straw.
  • An insemination gun or French goat gun.
  • Disposable sheaths to go over your insemination gun and needles if you have a needle gun.
  • Non-spermicidal AI lubricant.
  • Paper Towels.
  • Warm soapy water.
  • A heating pad for cold weather. No, not for you, for the semen!

One of the most important things to understand about artificial insemination is the timing. A doe is in heat for 12 to 36 hours. The egg is not actually released until 6 hours after a doe comes into standing heat. The best time to AI is 12 to 18 hours after the doe comes into standing heat. You have to remember that the idea is to get a live sperm into contact with a viable egg. Both the egg and the sperm are short lived and fragile. If you have tried to AI with no success, you may start to wonder how the bucks seem to manage it without even trying! But they deliver very large amounts of fresh sperm into a perfect environment. You are working with a small amount of sperm that is not fresh and needs to make a temperature shift before it can be delivered.

Artificial Insemination is a skill that I cannot possibly teach you here. I strongly recommend that you have a real live person teach this to you. There are also videos and books available on the subject. One of the best booklets that I have found is put out by Magnum Semen Works.

Very basically, this is how it is done: Fill your thaw container with 95 degree F water to just below the height of a straw. Restrain the doe, then wash her vulva and the area around it with warm sudsy water. Wash with a downward motion being careful not to contaminate your paper towel by bringing it in contact with the area around the anus. Dry her off with a clean paper towel. Then wash and dry your hands.

Open the semen tank and bring the canister, with the semen you want to use, just close enough to the rim of the tank to be able to reach the straw you want with your tweezers. Quickly put the straw into the thaw jar with the plugged end up. It is now safe for 15 minutes.

Now warm up your gun by rubbing it in your clean hand or putting it inside your clothing. Now pull the trigger of the gun out 6” and insert your straw cotton plug end first. Hold your straw out a little and cut off the other end with your straw cutter.

Now insert the gun and straw into the sheath with just enough pressure to seat the straw. Put the rubber donut on the gun to lock it in place, wrap it in a clean paper towel and place it in a warm heating pad.

Now lubricate the speculum with non-spermicidal gel, and insert it in her vulva with the off-centered end going in first, and pointed up. You will encounter an obstruction called the hiloc, so just work it gently upward and downward to get past. Now aim upward to avoid hitting the urethra which is at the bottom of the vaginal canal.

If your doe is in heat, she should not be terribly offended by the goings – on. Place your AI light inside the speculum and look for the cervix. You are looking for a small puckered ‘nose’ at the back of the vagina, at about 5 to 7 o’clock, with a black or dark red hole in the center of it. Once you find the cervix, catch it in the hole in the end of the speculum and ‘lock’ it in with a gentle pressure.

The mucus you should be having to fight should be very thick, and the cervix should be bright red with a black dot in the middle.

Now take your gun out and expel any air that is in the end of the straw. Insert the gun into the speculum and into the opening of the cervix. Now place another sheath with 1 ½ inches marked off on the end of it next to your gun and against the cervix. You should only go into the cervix past four rings (the cervix has rings that you must go through to penetrate it) or 1 ½ inches. Don’t go any further because you could injure the doe if you go too far. Now draw back a little so that you aren’t trying to put semen into tissue, and depress the plunger of the gun slowly, half way. Now slowly deposit the rest of the semen as you pull the gun back out of the cervix.

Gently remove the speculum and the gun. Insert your thumb slightly into the vagina and gently massage the clitoris for 5 seconds. The clitoris is located just inside the vulva and on the bottom of the vaginal floor.

It is a good idea to watch your doe to see if she comes back into heat, or if you are afraid you won’t catch her in heat again, just put her in with a buck in about two weeks. Of course, putting her in with the buck does not give you the chance to try AI again this year, but you will know she is pregnant. You could also wait 40 days, and if she has not come back into heat, have her ultrasounded so you know for sure if she is pregnant and you can make an informed decision.

Excerpt from Raising Meat Goats for Profit by Gail Bowman. May NOT be reproduced in any form without written permission from the author.
Primal Defense and Omegazyme
Primal Defense and Omegazyme