Factors associated with failure in breeding soundness examination of Western USA rams.Prev Vet Med. 2012 Jun 01; 105(1-2):118-26.PV
Breeding-soundness examination (BSE) and eradication of Brucella ovis infection in rams are critical components of flock-health programs. The aims of this retrospective, cross-sectional study were to describe the results of BSE in a large sample of rams in the Western USA and to determine the association between BSE outcome and the semen collection method (penis manually extended vs. retained in the preputial cavity), ram body-condition score (BCS), the presence of ulcerative posthitis, and the size of the flock of origin. We evaluated the first BSE in a given year for rams from Colorado, Wyoming, and Utah, USA, from 2000 through 2007. Breeding-soundness examination consisted of physical examination, scrotal circumference and BCS measurement, semen collection by electroejaculation, and microscopic examination of semen motility, morphology, and leukocyte concentration. We assigned a reason for failure to each failed BSE and used multivariable logistic and Poisson regressions to measure associations between ram and flock variables and the risk or reason for failure on BSE. A non-random, owner-selected subset of rams was tested for antibodies to B. ovis by serum indirect ELISA (iELISA). The Rogan-Gladen corrected B. ovis seroprevalence was measured. Of the 14,667 BSEs performed on 11,804 rams, 29.0% were classified as "failed;" the most common reason for failure was substandard semen parameters (43.8%). Breeding-soundness examinations were more likely to have been categorized as failure for inflammatory causes when performed on rams from medium-sized flocks (OR 1.6; 95% CI 1.1, 2.3) and large flocks (OR 1.4; 95% CI 1.0, 1.9) (P=0.02), suggesting that larger flocks are at higher risk of contagious diseases. The adjusted seroprevalence of B. ovis antibodies among tested rams in this study was 10.0%. Of 233 rams seropositive to B. ovis, 125 (53.6%) were subclinical, a finding that supports the importance of this test in ram BSE. We found that emaciation in rams was associated with an increased risk of BSE failure from substandard semen parameters (P<0.001), but ulcerative posthitis and the semen collection method were not (P=0.09 and 0.34, respectively). However, collection of semen with the penis retained in the preputial cavity resulted in greater odds of leukospermia relative to semen collection with the penis extended (OR 4.1; 95% CI 2.9, 5.9; P<0.001), presumably from contamination of the semen sample with preputial leukocytes. For ram BSE, therefore, semen collection with the penis manually extended from the sheath is recommended to limit leukocyte contamination of the sample.