Dietary supplementation of omega-3 fatty acids and subsequent effects on fresh, cooled, and frozen seminal characteristics of stallions
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The use of cooled and frozen/thawed semen offers many advantages to breeders. However, many stallions produce spermatozoa that are unable to endure the stresses of cooling/storage and freezing/thawing. Improving the quality and viability of equine spermatozoa via appropriate dietary manipulation could make these stallions commercially viable for cooling or cryopreservation. To evaluate whether spermatozoa quality and viability can be improved by supplementation of omega-3 fatty acids, and if improvements can be made by altering the sources of these fats, nine miniature stallions were placed into 1 of 2 treatment groups and fed either a fish- or algae/flaxseed-based supplement which was added to the basal concentrate. Motion characteristics, membrane integrity and morphology of spermatozoa in fresh, cooled/stored (24 and 48 h), and frozen/thawed semen samples were analyzed. When comparing spermatozoa obtained from stallions in each treatment, no differences were found (P > 0.05) in motility, percentage of membrane intact spermatozoa, and percentage of morphologically normal spermatozoa of stallions. Overall, omega-3 supplementation did not appear to have a beneficial effect on offsetting the harmful effects of the cooling and freezing processes. However, when analyzing the data of one stallion that had < 40% progressive motility (PMOT) after 24 h of cooling and storage, a significant increase was observed in total motility, and progressive motility of fresh and 24 h cooled/stored spermatozoa was observed when supplemented with the fish-based supplement. Thus, omega-3 fatty acid supplementation may be most beneficial for stallions that produce lower quality ejaculates. However, further studies should be conducted, with a larger sample size, in order to substantiate these findings.
Grady, Sicilia Tatiana (2008). Dietary supplementation of omega-3 fatty acids and subsequent effects on fresh, cooled, and frozen seminal characteristics of stallions. Master's thesis, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from