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Low Fertility Rate Of Uganda’s Animal Breeds Worries Experts

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Experts in animal breeding have expressed concern over the continued failure of different animal breeds to conceive through artificial insemination (AI).

Experts say failure to conceive is costly since such situations require a lot of repeats of AI.

Dr Jackson Mubiru, who is in charge of assisted reproductive technologies at the National Animal Genetic Resources Centre and Data Bank (NAGRC&DB), says field reports cited several reasons.

“Sometimes the animals are either hungry or sick. In some cases, the animals have less optimal conditions to support multiplication, coupled with misinformation from the farmer about the animal’s behaviour.

“In this case, we come in with technological science to help address the issue through AI, embryo transfer and pregnancy diagnosis, among others,” Mubiru says.

“Because animals were not reproducing by themselves at a rate humans wanted them to, we had to introduce AI to support reproduction.

“What comes out of a bull mounting one female may be enough for over 400 females.

For this reason, we pick that substance and divide it into doses to serve over 400 animals,” he adds.

Mubiru, however, says this has to be done by an expert, adding that the AI technician and the technique used to matter a lot in terms of conception.

“Ordinarily, this semen should be coming from the male through the natural service and one has to assume that this semen has to be alive. However, keeping it in a container and failing to take care of the container may kill the semen. Conception will not be realised if you serve the animal with dead semen,” he says.

Mubiru says the farmer has to observe the animals and inform the AI technicians so they can advise on the best way forward.

Seong HH illustrating how to redo a successful AI at NAGRC& DB in Entebbe. Photo by Agnes Nantambi

Seong HH illustrates how to redo a successful AI at NAGRC& DB in Entebbe. Photo by Agnes Nantambi

Mubiru was speaking during a refresher course for AI technicians from the Korea- Uganda Dairy Project (KUDaP) areas in the central districts of Uganda.

The training was aimed at equipping the technicians with new skills in handling AI.

Mubiru says they are currently intensifying refresher courses for AI technicians, to ensure that they use the right materials on the right animals so that increased conception is realised.

He castigated some AI technicians, whom he said are money hungry and demand cash from farmers rather than providing professional services.

“Some farmers claim AI technicians do a lot of repeats on the animals. That is why we are tackling the human resource and also encouraging the Koreans to spend time with the farmers, who can speak on behalf of the animals,” he says.

According to Mubiru, engaging the farmers and technicians increases hope for the improvement of conception in the country. He says on average, AI is standing at around 35-40% nationally.

Mubiru advises AI technicians to avoid serving animals without putting into consideration the outcomes, saying this has made more farmers lose interest in the technology. This, he says, is threatening dairy farming in the country.

Dr Sangwon Suh, a research professor from Jeonbuk National University in Korea, says the KUDaP project has provided Uganda with 30,000 doses of Korea Holstein-Friesian semen.

“Already, 16,000 doses have been distributed countrywide, which has increased the genetic capacity of Ugandan breeds,” he says.

In order to address issues of low conception, the project, Suh says, also provided 200 embryos for transferring.

He attributes the low conception rates of the Ugandan cows to poor management and feeding, coupled with stress from ticks.

“In the KUDaP project area, we are promoting issues to do with tick control and proper management, such that animals can relax, feed well and conceive,” Suh adds.

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