Does a high energy diet reduce sperm quality in bulls?

Categories: Research, Sperm Quality

The short answer: yes.

In this blog we look at the long answer to better understand why this occurs, and how to reduce this temporary loss of sperm quality.

What we know
Breeding bulls in Australia are commonly fed high-energy diets before sale, generally in the form of grain.

This high energy grain ration can cause the bull to develop a mild form of acidosis – particularly when intake is uneven. This is often accompanied by a slight lameness, as well as diarrhoea.

What we learnt
A recent study by QSML in conjunction with Ridley Agriproducts showed that a single occurrence of subclinical rumen acidosis can cause reduced sperm morphology for up to 90 days. Unfortunately, this can lead to preclusion from sale based on single sire mating criteria.

What you can do
Targeting moderate rates of gain (<1.5kg/d) and increasing roughage in a TMR or access to better quality roughage can reduce the occurrence of acidotic events. As a result, sperm quality can be ensured for the bull buyer in the following breeding season.

For a more detailed breakdown of Dr Viv Perry’s research, download the paper here.

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