Source: UNIVERSITY OF ALASKA submitted to
REINDEER AND MUSKOX BULL MANAGEMENT: SEMEN COLLECTION, EVALUATION AND FREEZING
Sponsoring Institution
National Institute of Food and Agriculture
Project Status
REVISED
Funding Source
Reporting Frequency
Annual
Accession No.
1009864
Grant No.
(N/A)
Project No.
ALK17-03
Proposal No.
(N/A)
Multistate No.
(N/A)
Program Code
(N/A)
Project Start Date
Oct 1, 2016
Project End Date
Sep 30, 2021
Grant Year
(N/A)
Project Director
Shipka, MI, P..
Recipient Organization
UNIVERSITY OF ALASKA
(N/A)
FAIRBANKS,AK 99775
Performing Department
Agriculture and Horticulture
Non Technical Summary
Agricultural production of non-traditional ruminant livestock species is an important, emerging industry in Alaska. The natural compatibility of species like reindeer, bison, muskoxen, yak, and elk with the Alaska environment makes them attractive candidates for agricultural enterprises in the north. An obvious obstacle to this industry is the lack of detailed understanding of intensive management practices, especially reproductive management for efficient production under Alaskan conditions.Recent animal research at UAF has successfully focused on farming indigenous Alaska species (reindeer for meat and muskoxen for wool) using animal management and production techniques commonly applied to cattle and sheep. Both Alaska species lend themselves to standard livestock practices and, though generally tractable, rutting reindeer and muskox bulls remain aggressive and dangerous to handle, destructive to facilities and threatening to herd-mates as well as to producers and their families. In addition, seasonal rutting activity takes a serious toll on the animal's condition, especially among reindeer, where as much as 35% of their body mass is depleted during rut, regardless of dominance status or proximity to females. As such, maintaining adequate male stock behind a fence is a daunting proposition. Currently, it requires a disproportionate amount of capital investment for fencing and a lot of skill to bring the animals through the highly vulnerable post-rut phase. Collectively, these factors make rutting bulls costly, challenging to manage in traditional agricultural settings, and poor candidates for agrotourism.
Animal Health Component
15%
Research Effort Categories
Basic
(N/A)
Applied
100%
Developmental
(N/A)
Classification

Knowledge Area (KA)Subject of Investigation (SOI)Field of Science (FOS)Percent
3013999302010%
3013999303015%
3013999106075%
Goals / Objectives
Build capacity by training research assistant in specialized trainingEstablish techniques for semen collection from control and depo-exposed reindeer bulls.Extend this model to include rutting muskox bulls.Document the time course for spermatogenesis in both speciesEvaluate semen quality at different stages of the breeding season, before, during and after depo administrationDevelop techniques for evaluating semen quality in control and Depo-Provera treated reindeer and muskoxen throughout the breeding season.
Project Methods
The research assistant will begin by gaining familiarity with the handling and husbandry of muskoxen and reindeer through collaboration with the herd manager through Animal Resources Center, UAF. With a working knowledge of behavior in both species, they will design (in conjunction with the PI's) species specific protocols for the data collection of rut related behavior, seasonal changes in feed intake and antler development. These data will be entered in appropriate data bases maintained by the assistant. Participation in semen collection and evaluation will be followed by training with Dr. T. Geary, at the USDA ARS Fort Keogh Livestock and Range Research Laboratory, Miles City, MT.Protocols for determining the length of spermatogenesis and their applicability to muskoxen and reindeer will be researched and adapted both species.It is anticipated the research assistant will participate in the data analysis, presentation and final write-up of the Depo-Provera study and will participate as a teaching/lab assistant for new programs being developed in reproductive biology and Theriogenology.

Progress 10/01/19 to 09/30/20

Outputs
Target Audience:Alaska reindeer producers. Primary audience includes both reindeer herders of rural Alaska and those producers on the road system who keep reindeer behind fence. Secondary audience includes agency and research personnel. Changes/Problems: Nothing Reported What opportunities for training and professional development has the project provided?University of Alaska Fairbanks personnel learned from the collaborating scientists from USDA Agricultural Research Service at Fort Keogh, Miles city, MT who collaborated on this project. How have the results been disseminated to communities of interest?Presentation of results of previous projects to Kawarak Reindeer Herders Association and at the Alaska Sustainable Agriculture Conference. Previous results have been shared with members of the multi-state research group W3112 Improving Reproductive Performance in Domestic Ruminants. What do you plan to do during the next reporting period to accomplish the goals?Working on data analysis, writing up information from previous projects and submitting at least one more journal article in collaboration with colleagues from MT, NE, and WY.

Impacts
What was accomplished under these goals? Having previously established the benefits of using depot medroxyprogesterone acetate (DMPA) treatment to counteract rut induced behavioral changes in reindeer bulls, with result including reduced aggression, increased food intake, body mass stability, while still maintaining the production of live sperm and the ability to impregnate cows, this year we are attempting to determine the viability of reindeer semen (sperm) collected, extended and frozen during the 2019 breeding season from DMPA treated bulls. Alloquats of reindeer bull semen had been evaluated during fall 2019 immediately following collectionand all measures of viability were reduced in2020 after one year of storage. During the fall of 2020, we bred 10 reindeer cows. Pregnancy had not been ascertained on those cows prior to 9-30-2020.

Publications


    Progress 10/01/18 to 09/30/19

    Outputs
    Target Audience:Alaska reindeer producers. Primary audience includes both reindeer herders of rural Alaska and those producers on the road system who keep reindeer behind fence. Secondary audience includes agency and research personnel. Changes/Problems:UAFs dire financial situation jeopardizes the on-going existence of research facilities and animals. What opportunities for training and professional development has the project provided?University of Alaska Fairbanks personnel learned from the collaborating scientists from USDA Agricultural Research Service at Fort Keogh, Miles city, MT who collaborated on this project. How have the results been disseminated to communities of interest?Presentation of results of previous projects to Kawarak Reindeer Herders Association and at the Alaska Sustainable Agriculture Conference. What do you plan to do during the next reporting period to accomplish the goals?Working on data analysis, writing up information from previous projects and submitting at least one more journal article. currently working on plans for project during the Fall 2020 breeding season in collaboration with colleagues from MT, NE, and WY.

    Impacts
    What was accomplished under these goals? Having previously established the benefits of using depot medroxyprogesterone acetate (DMPA) treatment to counteract rut induced behavioral changes in reindeer bulls, with result including reduced aggression, increased food intake, body mass stability, while still maintaining the production of live sperm and the ability to impregnate cows, this year we are attempting to determine the biologic activity associated with these changes. During the fall of 2018, we set up breeding groups of animals such that during the next breeding season (2019) we had matched age bulls with and without breeding experience so we can compare semen quality factors and breeding activity on experienced and naive bulls with and without DMPA treatments. Date from those breeding group are currently being analyzed.

    Publications

    • Type: Journal Articles Status: Published Year Published: 2019 Citation: The effects of short-term medroxyprogesterone acetate on rut related behaviors, semen characteristics and fertility in farmed reindeer bulls. 2019. Janice Rowell, Tom Geary, John Blake, Abigail L. Zezeski, Milan Shipka Received 10 May 2019, Revised 23 August 2019, Accepted 25 August 2019, Available online 27 August 2019.


    Progress 10/01/17 to 09/30/18

    Outputs
    Target Audience:Research professionals and producers of livestocks, especially reindeer producers, Alaska Diversified Livestock Growers Association, student training vet-med, Undergraduate and graduate students in agriculture. Changes/Problems: Nothing Reported What opportunities for training and professional development has the project provided?University of Alaska Fairbanks personnel learned from the collaborating scientists from University of Wyoming and University of Nebraska Lincoln. Gradute from the University of Wyoming had the opportunity to come to Fairbanks and collect reindeer brains. How have the results been disseminated to communities of interest?Presentation at the Western American Society of Animal Science meetings. Presentation at Hatch Multistate research group meeting of the W3112 Improvement of Reproductive Performance of Domestic Ruminants. What do you plan to do during the next reporting period to accomplish the goals?Finish all laboratory work on neural architecture and testes tissue immunohistochemestry, data analysis and preparation of information for publication and continue investigation of management techniques associated with reindeer and muskox bull management: semen collection, evaluation and freezing.

    Impacts
    What was accomplished under these goals? Having previously established the benefits of using depot medroxyprogesterone acetate (DMPA) treatment to counteract rutinduced behavioral changes in reindeer bulls, with result including reduced agression, increased food intake, body mass stability, while still maintaining the production of live sperm and the ability to impregnate cows, this year we are attempting to determine the biologic activity associated with these changes. Briefly we used eight healthy reindeer bulls that were slated for euthanasia because of the need for herd size reduction (NRC controls on our research site negate the possiblility to slaughter these animals for human consumption) and treated four bulls with DMPA, contituting two treatment groups (early season euthanasia [n=2] and late season euthanasia [n=2]) and had four non-treated bulls in two contol groups (early season euthanasia [n=2] and late season euthanasia [n=2]). Euthanasia and tissue collection on the late season collections occurred during October 2017At the time of euthanasia on each group, brains were collected andpurfused in order to examine for neural architecture differences and testes were collected and tissues processed and preserved to look at messenger RNA activity associate with sperm production and maturation in other domestic livestock species, using immunohistochemestry methodologies. In addition, two colleagues from other land grant universities were brought to ALaska to help with tissue collection based on there expertise (Brenda Alexander; University of Wyoming; neurobiology of sexual behavior) and ( Andrea Cupp; Univerity of Nebraska Lincoln, testicular function and signaling within the testes). Laboratory analysis of tisues is on-going. During the fall of 2018, we set up breeding groups of animals such that next breeding season (2019) we will have matched age bulls with and without breeding experience so we can compare semen quality factors and breeding activity on experienced and naive bulls with and without DMPA treatments.

    Publications

    • Type: Other Status: Published Year Published: 2018 Citation: Ziegler, R.L, K. J. Austin, J. E. Blake , J. E. Rowell, A. S. Cupp, M. P. Shipka, B. M. Alexander. 2018. Depo-Provera Increases Neural activity in the Central Amygdala of Reindeer Bulls. Proc. WSASAS. 69:


    Progress 10/01/16 to 09/30/17

    Outputs
    Target Audience:Research professionals and producers of livestocks, especially reindeer producers, Alaska Diversified Livestock Growers Association, student training vet-med, Undergraduate and graduate students in agriculture. Changes/Problems: Nothing Reported What opportunities for training and professional development has the project provided?University of Alaska Fairbanks personnel learned from the collaborating scientists from University of Wyoming and University of Nebraska Lincoln. Gradute from the University of Wyoming had the opportunity to come to Fairbanks and collect reindeer brains. How have the results been disseminated to communities of interest? Nothing Reported What do you plan to do during the next reporting period to accomplish the goals?Finish all laboratory work on neural architecture and testes tissue immunohistochemestry, data analysis and preparation of information for publication

    Impacts
    What was accomplished under these goals? Having previously established the benefits of using depot medroxyprogesterone acetate (DMPA) treatmentto counteract rut-induced behavioral changes in reindeer bulls, with result including reduced agression, increased food intake, body mass stability, while still maintaining the production of live sperm and the ability to impregnate cows, this year we are attempting to determine the biologic activity associated with these changes. Briefly we used eight healthy reindeer bulls that were slated for euthanasia because of the need for herd size reduction (NRC controls on our research site negate the possiblility to slaughter these animals for human consumption) and treated four bulls with DMPA, contituting two treatment groups (early season euthanasia [n=2] and late season euthanasia [n=2])and had four non-treated bulls in two contolgroups (early season euthanasia [n=2] and late season euthanasia [n=2]). At the time of euthanasia on each group, brains were collected and purfused in order to examine for neural architecture differences and testes were collected and tissues processed and preserved to look at messenger RNA activity associate with sperm production and maturation in other domestic livestock species, using immunohistochemestry methodologies. In addition, two colleagues from other land grant universities were brought to ALaska to help with tissue collection based on there expertise (Brenda Alexander; University of Wyoming; neurobiology of sexual behavior) and ( Andrea Cupp; Univerity of Nebraska Lincoln, testicular function and signaling within the testes). Laboratory analysis of tisues is on-going.

    Publications