Semen characteristics of Ile-de-France rams of different age and physical condition
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A breeding soundness examination (BSE) involving animal physical examination, scrotal circumference (SC) and semen evaluation was undertaken on 80 Ile-de-France rams at a government breeding farm, 32 km south-west of Casablanca (Morocco) from March to May 1988. A large percentage of rams (21.4 percent) was found to be unfit for breeding due to physical and genital abnormalities; 11 and 5 percent had disorders of the feet and respiratory system; upon genital palpation, 17.5, 13.8 and 7.5 percent of animals had orchitis, epididymitis and posthitis, respectively. The SC increased with age from 28.8+3.2 cm at <2 yr to 35.3+3.5 cm at 4 yr or more (P<0.001). The quality of semen was significantly (P<0.01) depressed by orchitis and epididymitis (P<0.01) but not by ram age. Semen volume decreased from 1.1+0.6 ml in rams with normal genitalia to 0.5+0.4 and 0.25+0.2 ml in animals with orchitis and epididymitis, respectively. Similarly, sperm cell concentration declined from 2.5+1.2 to 1.1+0.7 and 1.6+1.2 billion per ml, while sperm motility dropped from 81.5+12.3 percent to 58.3+14.3 and 61.3+26.5 percent. The percentage of abnormal spermatozoa was also higher among rams with orchitis (24.3+17.5 percent of abnoraml spermatozoa was also higher among rams with orchitis (24.3+17.5 percent) and epididymitis (20.7+24.3 percent) than among rams with normal genitalia (6.4+6.2 percent). We concluded that older rams need better health care to improve their semen production properties that may be influencing fertility.