Morphology Services

Sperm Morphology Analysis

QSML has two fully equipped Sperm Morphology Laboratories, which allows fast reliable examination of sperm even in peak season (1-5 day turnaround) using excellent state of the art differential interference contrast (DIC) microscopes under x1000 magnification. The laboratories use Nikon 80i and Nikon Eclipse DIC microscopes. Experienced staff, with tertiary scientific qualifications and training in sperm evaluation and microscopy, provide a trusted quality service to Australian and overseas clients and they have been accredited under the Australian Cattle Veterinarians scheme.

Referral advice is freely available to clients from Dr Viv Perry who has >20years experience in teaching male ruminant reproduction to both undergraduate and postgraduate veterinarians in Australia and the UK.

The morphology traits are individually recorded based on the sperm abnormality format described by Fordyce et al. (2006) and established by Dr Viv Perry in collaboration with the ACV in 2002 (see research publication list(Perry et al., 2002)).

Sperm morphology analysis following preservation in phosphate-buffered formal saline (1.0 mL) is completed on 100 individual spermatozoa in each sample. This is considered sufficient sperm for examination (Burns et al., 2013). We adhere to the current guidelines on the interpretation of the spermiogram that have led to the increase in count of sperm to 200 in samples which are borderline (62%-77%). This takes increased time for the technicians but entails no additional cost for clients.

We also complete Schiff’s staining on samples where this is deemed desirable- again at no increased cost to the client and participate in ongoing training via a UQ standards and proficiency association.

The QSML uses part of its income to fund ongoing research into bull fertility and factors affecting sperm morphology for the long term benefit of the industry.

  • BURNS, B. M., CORBET, N. J., CORBET, D. H., CRISP, J. M., VENUS, B. K., JOHNSTON, D. J., LI, Y., MCGOWAN, M. R. & HOLROYD, R. G. 2013. Male traits and herd reproductive capability in tropical beef cattle. 1. Experimental design and animal measures. Animal Production Science, 53, 87-100.
  • FORDYCE, G., ENTWISTLE, K., NORMAN, S., PERRY, V., GARDINER, B. & FORDYCE, P. 2006. Standardising bull breeding soundness evaluations and reporting in Australia. Theriogenology, 66, 1140-8.
  • PERRY, V. E., PHILLIPS, N., FORDYCE, G., GARDINER, B., ENTWISTLE, K., CHENOWETH, P. & DOOGAN, V. J. Semen collection and evaluation.  Bull Fertility: Selection & Management in Australia, 2002. Australian Assoc. of Cattle Veterinarians, 1-19.
Total sperm Decision
counted Pass ≥ Fail ≤ Borderline
Normal % Normal % Normal count
50 41 82 29 58 30 – 40
75 59 79 45 60 46 – 58
100 78 78 61 61 62 – 77
200 150 75 128 64 129 – 149
250 186 74 161 64 162 – 185
500 365 73 330 66 331 – 364
1000 719 72 671 67 672 – 718
5000 3529 71 3421 68 3422 – 3528

Frozen Sperm Analysis

Frozen thawed semen can be assessed for morphology motility and concentration or for morphology and motility only.

Evaluations of motility are completed using a phase contrast bright field microscope at 400 X with a warm stage.  Differential interference contrast (DIC) at 1000 X is used to assess morphology as it has advantages over phase contrast for sperm morphology and acrosomal integrity examination in wet mounts from straws. A slide warmer, incubator and water bath are used to maintain equipment and semen temperature.

Three semen quality parameters are usually evaluated:

  1. Post-thaw viability and motility
  2. Sperm morphology
  3. Number of motile cells per dose (concentration)

NB Three doses (straws) of semen are preferred for adequate evaluation of viability.  When semen is very expensive one straw may be evaluated. The post-thaw viability of spermatozoa reflects the recovery of sperm from the freeze-thaw process. The percent of progressively motile spermatozoa and their speed of progression (rate) is determined immediately after thawing and after one and two hours of incubation.

The ACV guidelines and thresholds on the assessment of bovine semen morphology are used. with the exception of the SA threshold as this is assessed separately with a % intact acrosome test.


To Send Frozen Samples (important)

Frozen straws may be sent in liquid nitrogen tanks (dewars) or dry shippers.

QSML must be notified prior to shipping to ensure samples are booked in and are able to be processed promptly on arrival with sufficient liquid nitrogen remaining in the tank.

Contact for frozen samples:

Phone: 0427 754 709 (AH 07 46 754536) Judy

Email: Contact us

Vials and Reliabull Scrotal tapes

Vials containing formal saline may be ordered preferably by email ([email protected]) in any number but are prepacked in bags of 25 and 100 and promptly sent out via post. We prefer the screw cap vials as these do not leak.  If you have a preference for flip top vials please advise us upon ordering. We also prefer round end vials as we observe less clumping than with the cone end vials.

We are a registered wholesaler of Reliabull Scrotal tapes sourced from Professor Albert Barth at WCVM in Saskatchewan. These are the “tape of choice” for ACV and BCVA veterinarians.