In the dairy industry, herd fertility is crucial to the farm’s economy. Ideally all cows will have a calf every year; otherwise milk production will drop.
But tracking the ovulation of a hundred or more cows is not an easy task. Farmers must try to pinpoint the heat of each animal through observation, heat detection systems or synchronisation. Cows that do not conceive cost farmers money, consume resources and add to the farm’s environmental footprint.
The SpermVital technology prolongs the life of bovine sperm after insemination. To achieve this, sperm cells are immobilised in a natural substance before cryopreservation. The patented process enables a controlled release of sperm cells in the uterus, doubling the amount of time that the semen is viable.
While cryopreservation of semen has been around for decades, SpermVital is the first technology to extend sperm life after insemination. In conventional methods, the sperm are released in the uterus immediately, but SpermVital gradually releases the sperm over time. “A conventional semen dose survives for 24 hours, but our solution provides fresh, viable sperm for 48 hours,” says Steig.
This gives dairy farmers flexibility when timing inseminations. “Finding the best time to inseminate is not easy. All animals have slightly different heat signs. A cow has a period of 21 days, so if you miss a heat, you have to wait another 21 days. With our solution, farmers have a wider window of opportunity,” he explains.
SpermVital boosts efficiency on dairy farms by increasing conception rates. This improves the farm’s financial bottom line, while reducing the environmental impact. “Our solution allows farmers to optimise their resource use. In the long run, you will need fewer cows to produce the same amount of milk, and your farm will become more sustainable and generate less methane gas,” says Steig.
Moreover, SpermVital improves animal welfare on farms by decreasing the number of repeat inseminations, which can create high stress levels in cows. The solution also lightens the workload of farm workers by reducing the need for insemination on weekends or public holidays.
The artificial insemination industry is mature in Western markets and rapidly developing in emerging markets. It is estimated that 220 million first inseminations are performed on dairy cows every year. This represents only 14 per cent of the global herd, leaving a vast, untapped market. The beef industry, which has mostly relied on natural mating, is a potential future market for artificial insemination as well.
SpermVital is distributed throughout Europe, and the company plans to expand globally. It is now launching an industrial version of its technology together with one of the market leaders in the artificial insemination market.
“We have a slogan that says ‘increasing possibilities’. That’s what it’s really all about,” says Steig. “Most farmers intuitively understand that increasing the lifespan of the sperm is a good idea. They can easily recognise the value of our technology.”
At a glance
The technolgy is already on the market in Europe.
Holsetgata 22, 2317 HAMAR, Norway
Nils Christian Steig