R & D

Rabbit semen collection and artificial insemination made easier with OLIRAV

Research efforts of Dr S. Idowu Ola, an associate professor of Animal Reproduction at Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria.

Rabbit semen could be collected for either andrological research or artificial insemination purposes. However, rabbit semen collection, as simple as it appears, has usually been a tough challenge in Nigeria, because of the lack of ready availability of suitable artificial vagina (AV). This challenge was recently overcome after Dr Idowu Ola developed an improvised rabbit artificial vagina (nicknamed OLIRAV) from readily sourced laboratory consumables. Dr Ola is a Reproductive Physiologist in the Department of Animal Sciences of Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria.

OLIRAV was developed from a 20 ml syringe, 5 ml sample collection tube, latex condom and rubber band. Water at 40oC is used to supply warmth for the inner lining of the apparatus. OLIRAV is easy to assemble and in operation, takes less than 30 seconds to collect semen from a properly stimulated buck. OLIRAV was tested over several trials and proven very effective compared to commercial AV brands.

A comparative study of OLIRAV to a commercially available AV showed no significant difference between the commercial AV and OLIRAV in the buck’s response interval, semen volume and semen concentration(1). Semen collected with OLIRAV was used to inseminate does’ and the animals delivered kits that were thrifty with litter sizes ranging from 4 to 8.

OLIRAV (right) side by side a commercial rabbit artificial vagina (left)

OLIRAV has a number of advantages over the commercial brands of rabbit AVs, the most important being its low cost. It costs only about ₦100 Nigerian naira (less than $ 1 USD) to build one OLIRAV which is reusable for several semen collections.  The apparatus could be disposed off after the day’s collections and thus removing the necessity to sterilize for reuse, as is the case with commercial brands. The materials (syringe, collection tube and latex condom) used for making OLIRAV usually come in sterile packaging, which guarantee the cleanliness and safety of OLIRAV for use.

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Artificial insemination procedure in rabbit demands that the doe be stimulated to ovulate, usually with synthetic gonadotrophin releasing hormone or its analogue. Getting this hormone readily is the bane of rabbit AI in Nigeria. However the research efforts of Dr Ola has shown that rabbit could also be successfully stimulated to ovulate with the readily available Ovulin ( containing salmon Gonadotrophin Releasing Hormone, sGnRH) commonly used for ovulation induction in catfish. An intramuscular dose rate of 1 ml of sGnRH per kg doe weight was reported to be effective to stimulate ovulation in non lactating rabbit does(2).

According to Dr Ola, these latest innovation in the field of animal reproductive technology will make fertility studies with rabbits much easier and cheaper but more importantly, will bring the use of Artificial Insemination technique to the door step of rabbit farmers in the less developed economies. Dr Ola could be contacted for additional details by email at idowuola@oauife.edu.ng

(1)Ola S.I. (2016). OLIRAV: A simple, disposable rabbit artificial vaginal device/procedure. Proceedings of 11th World Rabbit Congress, June 15-18, 2016, Qingdao, China, pg 209-212.

(2) Bamidele O. and S.I. Ola (2018). Ovulation induction in rabbit does by intramuscular administration of salmon gonadotropin releasing hormone analogue (sGnRHa). Proceedings of 43rd annual conference of Nigeria Society for Animal Production, Owerri, Imo State, 19- 22 March 2018.

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