Artificial Insemination in White-Tailed Deer,
(AI, Laparoscopic AI, Lap AI, Transcervical AI, Vaginal AI)
as explained by Dr. Whittington and Dr. Fuselier.
Artificial insemination in White-Tailed Deer is a common way to breed does today. One of two types of AI are utilized: Transcervical AI or Laparoscopic AI (Lap AI). There is good evidence that Lap AI results in more pregnancies and more fawns per pregnancy than transcervical AI. Legally, only a licensed veterinarian can perform Lap AI, and special training is required to become proficient in this surgical technique. Dr. Fuselier has these credentials and has taught several veterinarians across the US how to perform this procedure properly in White-Tailed Deer.
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-What is artificial insemination?
Artificial insemination is when a veterinarian or trained technician deposits semen into the cervix or uterus of an animal in heat with hopes of creating a pregnancy. The semen is either frozen then thawed or from a fresh collection.
-Why artificially inseminate?
This techniques is often utilized as an alternative to having to own a buck . Often this is for safety reasons. Bucks can be dangerous during the ‘rut’ or breeding season. Also, it is a way to introduce high quality genetics in a more affordable way than purchasing several expensive bucks. It is one of the best ways to rapidly improve the genetic quality of a herd.
-Will artificial insemination increase production?
That depends on your definition of production. When thinking about number of offspring per doe per year, the answer is no. Depending on the type of AI (transcervical or LapAI), the expected number of does that get pregnant ranges from 30 – 70+%, respectively. If you definition is production is better quality, potentially faster growing, more valuable offspring, the answer is yes.
-What are the benefits of A.I.?
It allows a farm to rapidly improve the herd genetics and increase the value of the herd.
-What are the risks of artificial inseminating my deer?
Regardless of the AI method used, it is a stressful event for deer. Stress can lead to a condition called Capture Myopathy, which is life-threatening to deer. There is always a concern with handling deer that they will severely injure themselves. LapAI has the added risk of anesthesia. Anytime we anesthetize deer, there is a concern that they will not wake up. Although this rarely happens, it is still a concern.
-Things to remember during the A.I. process:
1. Does must be in good condition. Skinny or sick deer should not be AI’d
2. Only use semen from a reputable source. Have a veterinarian evaluate the quality of semen being used.
3. Do everything possible to minimize stress! Having a few experienced helpers is much better than having several inexperienced helpers.
-Factors to consider before artificial inseminating deer.
It is a good idea to have a buck available to put with the does after AI so that they might breed the does that did not take to AI. Have a plan in place for the resulting fawns. If you will bottle raise the fawns, be sure that you have the appropriate facilities and enough reliable help. Also, if you had severe illness in your herd during the summer, expect lower pregnancy rates in the does that are artificially inseminated. If you are not willing to risk losing deer, you probably should not try to artificially inseminate your deer.