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With around 1/3rd of UK stock bulls being reported as sub-fertile, and UK bovine conception rates often no more than 40%, assessing the quality of male fertility is an essential part of improving herd performance.

Building on a recent research project with grant funding from Innovate UK, our new SemenRate service uses computer assisted semen analysis (CASA) combined with flow cytometry to detect new measures of viability including acrosome integrity, not previously commercially available in the UK.

BefSperm Illustrationore now, tests have relied on microscopy and the human eye to assess whether bull semen is good enough to use.

From now, the new SemenRate service will be able to objectively assess different parts of the sperm using flow cytometry so that essential features such as acrosome integrity (the part of the sperm needed to get through the egg wall so fertilisation can take place) are evaluated as a routine procedure – bringing research techniques into the field.



Subjective evaluation of semen by conventional microscopy is used routinely. Combining CASA and flow cytometry alongside trained operator assessment offers a more objective multi-parametric approach to evaluate the quality of the semen for use. This allows standardized procedures to be established to make accurate and repeatable decisions on the quality of the fresh or frozen semen and whether it has been compromised in production in the bull or when frozen in storage, transport or otherwise.




Semen is a fragile package and even more so when frozen in liquid nitrogen. Although the majority of natural service with stock bulls and artificial insemination using frozen semen is of good standard, there are potential pitfalls. Firstly, UK surveys have shown that around one third of stock bulls tested are subfertile. Secondly, frozen AI semen has given the cattle industry a revolutionary opportunity to access genetic progress in a transportable high health package ever since the technique of liquid nitrogen freezing was cracked. However, this carries the risk that any issues with transport, storage or thawing technique for example will inevitably compromise semen quality and therefore fertilisation success. Some bulls produce semen that freezes more easily than others and semen quality changes with time as well as being affected by health and nutritional issues. These are all reasons to proactively screen semen before use.

“Thank you for your very useful analysis of the fertility test results…. it is refreshing to know that such scientific analysis is available. … We are very glad to add you to our portfolio of specialist professionals from which to draw when complicated scenarios such as this arise”.

Farmer, Wiltshire

 The SemenRate package includes:

  1. Pre-paid postage on freshly collected semen samples from your veterinary practice
  2. An easy to read reporting including guidance on interpretation
  3. CASA+Flow Cytometry analysis
  4. Specialist analysis-trained technician analysis to sit alongside the new technology

If you are interested in referring a case, or finding out more, please email us at or call our team on 01765 645893.