Summary. In Exp. 1, 40 ewes were used in a 2 × 2 factorial design to investigate the effects of intrauterine versus cervical insemination and superovulation using pig FSH or PMSG and GnRH on egg recovery and fertilization rate. Cervical inseminations were carried out at 48 and 60 h (N = 20 ewes) and intrauterine insemination at 52 h (N = 20 ewes) after progestagen pessary withdrawal. Eggs were recovered on Day 3 of the oestrous cycle. Ovulation, egg recovery and fertilization rates were independent of the type of superovulatory hormone used. Fertilization rate was high irrespective of insemination site but intrauterine insemination at 52 h was associated with a significant (P < 0·01) decrease in egg recovery of over 40% compared with cervically inseminated ewes.
In Exp. 2 ewes were inseminated at 36 (N = 5), 48 (N = 6) or 60 (N = 6) h after pessary withdrawal to determine the optimum intrauterine insemination time to maximize both fertilization rate and egg recovery. Egg recovery per ewe flushed was 23, 59 and 67% after intrauterine insemination at 36, 48 and 60 h respectively. Correspondingly, 0, 85 and 100% of the eggs recovered were fertilized. The results of Exps 1 and 2 suggest that when intrauterine insemination occurs before or during ovulation it interferes with oocyte collection by the fimbria.
In Exp. 3 egg recovery and fertilization rates were determined after cervical insemination at 48 and 60 h (N = 8) or intrauterine insemination at 48 (N = 9) or 60 (N = 8) h after progestagen withdrawal. Ewes in the last two groups were subdivided and inseminated unilaterally or bilaterally. Egg recovery was high after cervical insemination (95%) but only 36% of these eggs were fertilized. Unilateral intrauterine insemination was as effective as bilateral in ensuring high fertilization rates (100 versus 97%). Intrauterine insemination at 48 h compared with 60 h resulted in a significantly lower (P < 0·05) percentage of eggs recovered (42 versus 90% respectively). However, reducing the degree of interference by adopting unilateral rather than bilateral insemination did not alleviate the detrimental effects of the 48-h insemination time on egg recovery.
From these results we advocate the adoption of intrauterine insemination at 60 h after progestagen withdrawal to maximize fertilization rate and egg recovery in superovulated ewes.
Keywords: superovulation; intrauterine insemination; fertilization; ovum recovery; ewe