Swiss develop cow breeding aid

May 11, 2011 at 2:52 PM
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ZURICH, Switzerland, May 11 (UPI) -- Swiss researchers say they've developed a way of increasing farmers' chances of fertilizing their cows with a sperm capsule that responds to ovulation cycles.

Most Swiss cows are artificially inseminated, and it is not always easy to anticipate the exact moment of ovulation simply by observation of an animal's behavior, researchers at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich said.

Bioengineers at the institute have developed a cellulose capsule that contains bull sperm and living cells that react to a particular bodily signal, Swissinfo,ch reported Wednesday.

Hundreds of the capsules can be implanted in the cow's uterus a few days before ovulation. The capsules then respond to hormones present during ovulation, releasing the sperm.

"The benefit is that we can widen the window of insemination," said Ulrich Witschi of Swissgenetics, one of the country's biggest suppliers of bull sperm.

A spokesman for the Swiss Farmers Association called the research "promising."

"Once this new development is put into practice, it will improve farmers' chances of breeding," Thomas Jaggi said.

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