The following is a summary submitted with the application. The student’s abstract/thesis has not been received.
The proposed research aims to evaluate the use of novel on-farm semen assessment tools, such as the ONGO and iSperm, in reliably assessing the concentration, motility and morphology of ram spermatozoa. Assessments done in the field are often inaccurate and unreliable, making it difficult to standardise protocols. Current protocols involve the use of a haemocytometer or spectrophometer. However, despite the haeomocyter being the most accurate, the method is time consuming and highly subjective if the user is not properly trained. Similarly, high variability and sensitivity problems have recently been assocated with the use of spectrophometers to assess sperm concentration. Therefore, the industry would greatly benefit from the validation of accurate, objective and reliable semen assessment tools. As such, results obtained on the ONGO and iSperm will be compared against advanced modern semen assessment techniques such as computer assisted sperm analysis (CASA), spectrometers and the haemocytometer, to validate results and compare accuracy. If proven successful, the industry would have access to a viable innovative tool to objectively assess ram performance through determining sperm quality and concentration, improving the accuracy of semen processing for artificial reproductive technologies such as cryopreservation and artificial insemination. This research could also potentially create a new gold standard of practice for objective semen assessment if the ONGO and iSperm technologies prove to be superior to current methods.