Courtesy of America’s Horse Daily
Optimal stallion health begets optimal semen health, which further begets optimal fertility rates in breeding programs.
Proper nutrition contributes monumentally to overall health, including the consumption of antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids. However, the exact benefits of those supplements remain unclear, and questions persist regarding whether antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids impact fresh, cooled, and frozen semen quality similarly.
To further assess the benefits of antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids on semen, horses were offered either an oral nutritional supplement or a placebo for 30 weeks. The supplement contained a variety of nutrients, including L-carnitine, omega-3 fatty acids, and vitamin E, among a variety of other vitamins and minerals.
After collecting and analyzing samples at various time points, researchers found:
- Nutritional supplementation increased total motility, speed, and acrosomal membrane integrity in fresh semen;
- Nutritional supplementation increased total motility and speed in cooled samples; and
- Nutritional supplementation increased motility and acrosomal membrane integrity in frozen samples;
- No difference in volume, appearance, or sperm concentration between supplemented and unsupplemented samples.
Progressive motility and an intact acrosome—a sac filled with enzymes located at the head of the spermatozoa that facilitate fertilization of the mare’s egg—are key features of healthy sperm. As such, the study authors concluded that “supplementation with nutraceuticals containing fatty acids and antioxidants improved the quality of fresh, cooled, and frozen stallion semen. Therefore, nutraceutical use should increase the success of artificial insemination with cooled and cryopreserved semen.”