OAU-iLINOVA team member develops disposable multisampling Artificial Vagina for rabbit semen collection.

The Teaching and Research Farm of Obafemi  Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife, has one of the best stocked rabbit experimental station in Nigeria. However, evaluating the fertility of the rabbit bucks on the farm has always been a challenge, because of the lack of artificial vagina (AV) for semen collection. This challenge was recently overcome after Dr Idowu Ola developed an improvised rabbit artificial vagina (nicknamed OLIRAV) from readily sourced laboratory consumables. Dr Ola is a Reproductive Physiologist in the Department of Animal Sciences of OAU.

OLIRAV was developed from a 20 ml syringe, 5 ml sample collection tube, latex condom and rubber band. Water at 40oC is used to supply warmth for the inner lining of the apparatus. OLIRAV is easy to assemble and in operation, takes less than 30 seconds to collect semen from a properly stimulated buck. OLIRAV was tested over several trials and proven very effective compared to commercial AV brands.

The OAU-iLINOVA project funded a study that compared the efficiency of OLIRAV to a commercially available AV. The result showed no significant difference between the commercial AV and OLIRAV in the buck’s response interval, semen volume and semen concentration. Semen collected with OLIRAV was used to inseminate does’ and the animals delivered kits that were thrifty with litter sizes ranging from 4 to 8.

OLIRAV has a number of advantages over the commercial brands of rabbit AVs, the most important being its low cost. It costs only about ₦100 Nigerian naira (about $ 0.5 USD) to build one OLIRAV which is reusable for several semen collections.  The apparatus could be disposed off after the day’s collections and thus removing the necessity to sterilize for reuse, as is the case with commercial brands. The materials (syringe, collection tube and latex condom) used for building OLIRAV usually come in sterile packaging, which guarantee the cleanliness and safety of OLIRAV for use.

According to Dr Ola, this latest innovation in the field of animal reproductive technology will make fertility studies with rabbits much easier and cheaper but more importantly, will bring the use of Artificial Insemination technique to the door step of rabbit farmers in the less developed economies.

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