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Effect of Electronically Controlled Cooling Pads on Semen Performance of Duroc Boars during Summer Heat Stress

Read time: 2 min

Daphne Licuan

Summer heat stress can affect swine production, notably boar semen quality and reproductive efficiency. Researchers have explored various cooling methods to address this challenge, including electronically controlled cooling pads (ECP). A recent study conducted at a boar stud in Scottsville, Kentucky, developed that cooling mats (ECP) improve semen performance in Duroc boars.

The study, led by researchers from Purdue University Department of Animal Sciences, IHT Group, and Pig Improvement Company Inc. (D.A. Licuan, A. P. Schinckel, J. Hundley, R. Nepomuceno, M. Robins, R, Crasto, B.A. Didion, M. Kleve-Feld, K.R. Stewart)  aimed to assess the impact of ECP on boar semen quality during the summer months. Sixty Duroc boars were divided into two groups: one group received ECP treatment, while the other served as the control group without ECP. The ECP system consisted of pads through which cold water was flushed based on temperature sensors, maintaining optimal cooling conditions for the boars.

During 30 days of natural summer heat stress, semen samples were collected from each boar at least once a week. Various parameters, including motility, volume, concentration, and sperm morphology, were analyzed to evaluate semen quality. Data analysis was performed using statistical methods, considering factors such as the boar’s age and the number of days between collections.

The results

The study revealed that boars under the ECP treatment exhibited a higher percentage of morphologically normal sperm than the control group when assessed using Hancock stain.

Overall, the findings suggest that maintaining boars on floor cooling pads during the summer months has impacts on semen production while reducing the presence of morphologically abnormal sperm. This underscores the potential of ECP as a viable strategy to mitigate the adverse effects of heat stress on boar reproductive performance. This means that cooling mats improve semen performance in Duroc boars.

For swine producers, this study provides valuable insights into the management of boar semen quality during periods of heat stress. Implementing ECP systems in boar studs or production facilities could contribute to maintaining reproductive efficiency and ultimately improving overall herd productivity. Further research and practical implementation of such cooling methods can benefit the swine industry significantly, ensuring sustained performance and profitability even in challenging environmental conditions.