Livestock Research for Rural Development 31 (4) 2019 Guide for preparation of papers LRRD Newsletter

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Factors affecting the conception rate of artificial insemination in small cattle dairy farms in an Algerian semi-arid area

C Mouffok1, A Allouni1, L Semara1,2 and F Belkasmi1,3

1 Department of Agriculture and Livestock Sciences, University Setif 1, Algeria
2 Department of Biology, University 08 Mai 1945 Mila, Algeria
3 Department of Biology, University Bachir Ibrahimi Bordj Bou Arréridj, Algeria


Artificial insemination is beginning to find its place in Algerian dairy cattle farms. The bovine artificial insemination (AI) assessments for a three-year period in the semi-arid wilaya of Sétif on 4 855 insemination acts carried out by 5 inseminators in 3 664 cows of 5 different breeds belonging to 1 600 breeders distributed in two areas (Central and South wilaya) were treated. The semen used had two origins: collected locally from improving bulls or imported from Europe.

The reproductive performances of the cows under AI practice were evaluated and the factors of influence were described. Thus, the success rate recorded in 1st AI was evaluated at 64%, or 1.3 ± 0.9 attempts per conception, and only 6.9% of the cows needed more than three inseminations to be pregnant. These parameters varied greatly under the direct effect of the inseminator (technicality and availability), the season and the region (environment), the breed and the origin of the semen (genetics). Seasonal variation is not universal but is more relevant to certain breeds, local semen and southern region. However, the analysis of the distribution of heat return (HR) intervals after non fecunding 1st AI showed the dominance of the ‘’> 48 days’’ class, which represents a very high heat return rate (33.3%) compared to the admitted threshold that does not exceed 5%. Its variability is a racial characteristic and is independent of the effects of region and origin of the semen.

Key words: reproduction, performance, cattle, Setif wilaya

Facteurs affectant le taux de conception en insémination artificielle dans des petites fermes laitières bovines dans la zone semi-aride d’Algérie


L’insémination artificielle est une technologie de reproduction qui commence à trouver sa place dans les élevages bovins algériens. En effet, les bilans d’insémination artificielle (IA) bovine, d’une période de trois années dans la wilaya de Sétif de la région semi-aride ont été traités. Les données dépouillées concernant 4 855 actes d’insémination réalisés par 5 inséminateurs sur 3 664 vaches de 5 races différentes appartenant à 1 600 éleveurs distribués sur deux régions (Centre et Sud de la wilaya). Les semences ainsi utilisées avaient deux origines: collectées localement à partir de taureaux améliorés ou importées directement d'Europe.

Les résultats ainsi obtenus ont permis d’évaluer les performances de reproduction de nos vaches et décrire les facteurs d’influence. Ainsi, le taux de réussite enregistré en 1ère IA a été évalué à 64%, soit 1,3 ±0.9 tentatives par conception, et seulement 6,9% des vaches avaient besoin de plus de trois inséminations pour devenir gravides. Ces paramètres ont varié fortement sous l’effet direct de l’inséminateur (technicité et disponibilité), la saison et la région (environnement), la race et l’origine de la semence (génétique). La variation saisonnière n’était pas universelle mais a concerné davantage certaines races, la semence locale et la région Sud. Cependant, l’analyse de la répartition des intervalles de retour en chaleur après une 1ère IA non fécondante a montré la dominance de la classe >48J qui présente un taux de retour très élevé (33,3%) par rapport au seuil admis qui est 5%. Sa variabilité est une caractéristique raciale et indépendante des effets région et origine de la semence.

Mots-clés: bovin, reproduction, performance, wilaya de Sétif


The reproductive management is a key element of any success of dairy cattle farming. The lactation always begins with a calf birth which is the result of conception. Any delay in conception linked to poor management of the reproductive function or a dysfunction of this function in animals necessarily leads to a loss of production which increases with the lengthening of postpartum period (Singh et al 2017). In reproductive physiology, postpartum lasts approximately 45 to 60 days, during which physiological, anatomical and biochemical mechanisms will be produced to prepare for a new pregnancy (Henzen 2011). Conventional management of reproduction through the use of breeding bulls is becoming ineffective for many reasons. Thus, the choice of a breeding bull in the peasant environment is often subjective on the basis of the size of the animal in the absence of genetic informations. Also, the breeding costs of such bull cost the farm extra expenses. This practice can also lead to disease dissemination (brucellosis for example) in the case of permutations of breeding bull between farms. The use of artificial insemination becomes a confident alternative to solve the problems raised. The semen comes from the bulls indexed improver, the practice is carried out at the desired time by antiseptic material increasing the chances of conception and reducing health problems. In Algeria, the National Center for Artificial Insemination and Genetic Improvement (CNIAAG) is the official organism responsible for the practice of artificial insemination throughout the country. The semen thus used is collected at the center of some breeding bulls or imported directly from Europe. This practice is also supported by the State at 75% of the real price. Such a policy aims to encourage its dissemination in the countryside to improve production levels and reduce health problems.

At the herd scale, the fertility is relative to the conception rate (CR) at the first insemination. This parameter determines the attractiveness and sustainability of the practice among breeders. Indeed, this parameter is not isolated from other conduct parameters such as the level of food, the choice of the insemination period and the quality of the semen used. In this study we try to evaluate the fertility parameters of the practice of artificial insemination in small private farms through the analysis of insemination records. Thus we describe the factors of variation of the fertility and the origin of the heat returns.

Materials and methods

Choice of study location

This study was conducted in the central and southern wilaya of Setif in Eastern Algeria. This wilaya is marked by the concentration of cattle farming, mainly the dairy type. The practice of artificial insemination is more frequent in this wilaya given the presence of several veterinary inseminator offices.

Animal material

The insemination records with 4 013 cows were analyzed, and after examining all the errors, the final results of 3 664 cows from five breeds were selected (Table 1). We have thus noticed the dominance of the exotic Montbeliarde and Holstein breeds that are widespread in the region, with their proportions exceeding 35% each. Thus, newly introduced, the Fleckvieh breed (French Simmental) begins to find its place in the farms of the region, mainly among young breeders recently installed as part of state plans to promote the dairy industry.

The animal semen used comes from two origins: imported directly from Europe in packaged flakes, or locally collected and packaged at the Artificial Insemination and Genetic Improvement Center (CNIAAG), Algers, of two types of bulls: imported (35) or locally selected (23).

Five inseminators have made available to us the insemination reports with the pregnancy certificates of three years of about 1 600 breeders.

Table 1. Distribution of the studied sample
Modality Number
of Cows
Region Center 3167 86.4
South 497 13.6
Breed Brune 189 5.2
Fleckvieh 477 13.0
Holstein 1 245 34.0
Montbéliarde 1 481 40.4
Pie Rouge 272 7.4
Semen Local 2 790 61.2
Imported 1 770 38.8
Breeders Center 225 14.1
South 1 375 85.9
Inseminators Ins 1 2 324 63.4
Ins 2 718 19.5
Ins 3 245 6.7
Ins 4 221 6.0
Ins 5 156 4.3
Data analysis

About 5 000 inseminations acts were treated. Thus, after elimination of the missing information, 4 855 inseminations acts were the object of calculation of the different criteria of reproduction. This is the result of the first four successive inseminations of 3 664 inseminated cows during a three-year period.

Because the studied variables (conception rate and heat return rate) are a binary qualitative variables, all the statistical analyzes were carried out with the chi-square procedure of the software SPSS (23).

Results and discussion

Analysis of conception rates

The conception rate at first insemination (CR) in the semi-arid region of Sétif was estimated at 64%. In addition, about 7% of cows needed more than three attempts to be pregnant. A total of 1.3 ±0.9 attempts were needed for conception.

The results reported in Table 2 show a dependence of the conception rate on cow-related factors as well as those of the environment. Indeed, the conception rate varies significantly by breed (p <0.001). The Brown Swiss breed appeared more fertile and recorded rates higher than 70%. However, Montbéliarde and Holstein came in second with CR that varied between 60 and 70%. And in the end, newly introduced breeds recorded the lowest rates and relatively far from the norms. The number of inseminations per conception followed the same trend and the most fertile breeds have the lowest indices. The averages of the recorded parameters were better than the results recorded by Ghozlane et al (2009) in the Pie Noire and Montbéliarde in Eastern Algeria and Mouffok et al (2013) from Montbéliarde in natural services using bulls. Yeni et al (2011) observed a relatively low conception rate for Simmental (63%) introduced in Turkey compared to Brown Swiss (70%). Thus, Asaduzzaman et al (2016) reported that in Bangladesh, Frisian and its crosses had higher return rates compared to the local breed. However, the origin of the semen affects also the conception rate. Thus, the use of imported semen improves the conception rate by about 5%.

The environment is a determining factor in the success of insemination. The southern region has better CR compared to the central region. The high difference (11.5%) shows a remarkable mastery of cattle breeding and mainly the reproductive function in the southern region where there is more investment in livestock for both food and buildings. Cultivated fodder and relatively modern buildings are increasingly being observed. The same results were reported by Khan et al (2016) in Pakistan who found that the CR varies greatly by region.

The level of mastery of practice by inseminators and their availability are decisive criteria for the success of inseminations and the improvement of the conception rates. Our results showed that the difference was about 20% between inseminators. The choice of the time of insemination, the distance traveled and the way of deposit of the semen are characteristics related to the inseminators. Mehamedi et al (2012) highlighted the effect of the timing of insemination on successful conception.

Table 2. Conception rate (%) of artificial insemination according to influencing factors
Factor Modalities CR (%) Signification
Breed Brown 73.2 p<0.001
Montbeliard 67.8
Holstein 63.7
Pie Rouge 59.6
Fleckvieh 53.0
Season Winter 67.9 p<0.01
Spring 68.1
Summer 64.6
Autumn 61.6
Origin of semen Imported 69.9 p<0.01
Local 65.2
Region Center 54.1 p<0.001
South 65.6
Inseminator Ins1 72.6 p<0.001
Ins2 49.0
Ins3 53.9
Ins4 43.4
Ins5 49.4
Seasonal variation of conception rates

The insemination season is another source related to the environment determining the rate of conception. In fact, there is deterioration in fertility and consequently conception rates between winter and autumn (Table 2). Inseminations made in winter and spring were more likely to succeed than those of other seasons. This is rather related to the food availability during the seasons considered and its effect on the body condition (BCS) of females, a critical index of fertility. In the summer and autumn, high temperatures reduced the chances of conception through the thermal regulation system. Thus, Bhattacharyya et al (2010) and Ghanem and Nishibori (2015) reported the insignificant effect of the season on the success of artificial insemination carried out respectively in crossed cows in the region of Kashmir and Holstein in Egypt.

However, the season effect is not universal; it is more noticeable in some breeds, for locally semen and in the southern region (Table 3). Indeed, it appears that the Red cows, Montbéliarde and Fleikvieh were the most sensitive breeds’ season effect whose effects are controversial. Montbeliarde was more sensitive in the late season (autumn), the Red breed had low CR in summer and autumn in which Flekvieh recorded the highest CR. Thus, local semen collected in summer and used in autumn showed low fertility rates due to the sensitivity of the male reproduction function to high temperature in summer. Seasonal variation was more characteristic of the southern region with low conception rates in summer and autumn. At this time, the high temperatures and the lower availability of food resources are at the origin of the degradation of the reproductive function. However, the central region characterized by the presence of natural grasslands appeared less sensitive to the season effect although a non significant difference is observed in favor of inseminations carried out in winter and autumn. These findings were reported by Matubber et al (2018) in Bangladesh. The authors observed that the return to heat concerned cows with low BCS and the effect was greater in cross cows than local breed.

Table 3. Conception rate (%) in artificial insemination of different breeds, origin of semen and region according to the season
Season Winter Spring Summer Autumn Signification
Breed Brown 70.0 79.1 78.3 80.5 p>0.05
  Montbeliard 73.7 69.4 69.2 63.2 p<0.01
  Holstein 66.2 70.0 63.2 60.0 p>0.05
  Pie rouge 69.3 75.3 45.8 00.0 p<0.001
  Flechvieh 46.8 51.4 63.4 58.5 p<0.05
Origin Imported 67.7 74.1 67.1 71.6 p>0.05
  Local 68.5 66.3 68.9 57.8 p<0.001
Region Center 61.9 53.5 54.3 62.3 p>0.05
  South 69.8 71.1 65.1 61.7 p<0.001
Analysis of the origin of the heat returns factors

The distribution of heat return intervals after a first non fecundant insemination, showed the presence of a peak at the interval [18-24 days] evaluated at 40%, and another at 36 to 48 days (12%) (Figure 1). Heat returns before 18 days were almost insignificant (<5%). The results recorded in our region were similar to those mentioned by many authors (Pinto et al 2000, Freret 2005, Chevallier et al 2008). The authors reported low return rates for intervals <18 days (4.6 to 9.6%) and higher for intervals [18-24] (29 to 39%) and more than 48 days (22 to 45%).

The deterioration of fertility may be partly explained by an increase in embryonic and fetal mortality. The study of AI intervals showed that the percentage of returns after 24 days is probably due to late embryonic mortality, but also to heat detection difficulties (Barbat et al 2005, Le Mezec et al 2005). Thus, Ghanem et al (2005) reported that repeated heat return was a genetic factor. The mutated allele (FXI), which is also present in humans and dogs, may lead to repeated breeding syndrome in the cow and cause significant financial losses on dairy farms (Akyuz et al 2012). This problem can be solved by hormone treatment with GnRH- (Hailu et al 2015). Thus, Kumar and Purohit (2017) observed that repeated breeding cows treated with hCG (45%) or GnRH (36%) achieved high conception rates compared to untreated cows (18%)

Figure 1. Distribution of heat return intervals after a first non fecundant insemination

The analysis of results in table 4 showed that the heat return rate depends only on the cow breed (p <0.001). Thus, the effect of the breed was remarkable on staggered returns [25-35 days] and returns to less than 18 days when the Brune Swiss and Fleckvieh breeds recorded the highest rates. Offset returns were probably due to late embryonic mortalities. Michel et al (2003) showed that late embryonic mortalities were more common in the Prim-Holstein breed than the Normande breed. However the numbers of artificial insemination compared was much lower with some breeds (Brune, Pie Rouge and Flekhvieh) than with others (Holstein and Montbéliarde).

Our results showed also no significant effect of the semen origin on the reason for the failure of 1st AI (p> 0.05). However, the returns after 48 days (fetal mortality) were relatively more frequent in the case of imported semen (38% vs 29%). These results are in agreement with those reported by Humblot and Denis (1986), which confirmed the insignificant effect of the origin of the bull on the late embryonic mortality frequency evaluated by the non-return rate between 25 and 35 days or by progesterone monitoring.

The effects of the season on eventual return after no fecundate insemination results in the effect of temperature. The analysis of heat return intervals showed a relatively insignificant difference between seasons. However the late embryonic mortalities [25-35 days] were more pronounced in winter, and the fetal mortalities [> 48 days] were most observed in the summer. Thermal stress is a risk factor for early embryonic mortality. High external temperatures during the peri-implant period compromised the survival of the embryo (Garcia et al 2002). The temperature can also have a deleterious effect on conception and maintain survival of the embryo. Comparing the quality of embryos obtained in Holstein cows in two different thermal environments (12 to 25° C vs 26 to 39° C), Monty and Racowsky (1987) observed a significant increase in unfertilized oocytes and embryos degenerated when outdoor temperatures increased. However, Raval et al (2018) confirmed the effect of puerperal infections on repeated breeding cows. The antibiograms showed the sensitivity of these organisms to Gentamicin-based treatments and Peniclillin resistance (Raval et al., 2017). Mineral under nutriment can also be the source of heat return problems. Ceylan et al (2008) and Barui et al (2015) found that repeat breeding cows had low serum levels of Zn, Cu and P.

Table 4. Heat Return rate (%) though season, origin of semen and breed
Factors Modality Return rate % (Number)
18 [18-24] [25-35] [36-48] 48
Season Winter 4.0 (07) 39.9 (69) 15.0 (26) 13.9 (24) 27.2 (47)
Spring 5.8 (17) 35.0 (102) 12.8 (37) 13.0 (38) 33.3 (97)
Summer 2.8 (05) 42.8 (77) 07.2 (13) 09.4 (17) 37.8 (68)
Autumn 3.8 (09) 39.5 (94) 10.1 (24) 12.2 (29) 34.4 (82)
p> 0.05
Origin of semen Local 4.6 (23) 41.2 (206) 11.6 (58) 13.2 (66) 29.4 (147)
Imported 3.9 (12) 36.5 (112) 11.1 (34) 10.4 (32) 38.1 (117)
p> 0.05
Breed Brown 12.1 (4) 33.0 (11) 30.0 (10) 9.1 (3) 15.1 (5)
Montbéliarde 2.9 (9) 37.1 (116) 12.5 (39) 12.5 (39) 35.1 (110)
Holstein 0.9 (3) 39.6 (127) 12.5 (40) 13.4 (43) 33.6 (108)
Red 3.7 (2) 37.0 (20) 9.2 (5) 16.7 (9) 33.3 (18)
Fleckvieh 12.6 (20) 42.1 (67) 3.8 (6) 8.8 (14) 32.7 (52)
p< 0.001



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Received 31 December 2018; Accepted 26 February 2019; Published 1 April 2019

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