Artificial insemination (AI) of pigs

Successful artificial insemination (AI) is essential to maximise productivity on any pig farm. 
Below, we outline the basic requirements, methods and considerations for effective AI of pigs.

Back to: Breeding performance in pigs

Top tips for effective AI

  1. Plan the access, space and exit of your AI facilities to reduce gilt and sow stress and maximise boar contact.
  2. Ensure that there is a well-planned process for the storage and handling of semen on farm.
  3. Regularly carry out staff training and review how to effectively calculate the timing of service, identification of sows and gilts in heat and AI techniques.
  4. Review the effectiveness of interventions and management strategies, e.g. breeding group selection and synchronisation of oestrus, using effective record keeping.

Different AI methods

Artificial insemination is the insertion and delivery of semen into the reproductive canal of a female pig (gilt or sow).

While the most common method of AI involves delivering semen to the cervix (trans-cervical AI), genetics (breeding) companies have developed catheters and techniques to deposit the semen further into the reproductive system:

  • Post-cervical AI allows for a reduction in spermatozoa (sperm cells) in the semen to a third of those required for standard AI techniques
  • Deep-intrauterine AI allows for a reduction in spermatozoa (sperm cells) by 5–20 times less than standard AI (Vazquez et al. 2008)

Any changes in AI technique should be made under direction from the genetics company that supplies your semen doses, your farm vet and your AI staff.

It is important to invest in regular staff training on both new AI techniques and the standard techniques used on your farm, as up to 70% of breeding performance can be explained through ‘technician effect’, i.e. variation in staff proficiency.

The videos on the right-hand side of this page demonstrate the basic elements of AI for indoor and outdoor breeding herds.

Artificial Insemination (AI) Standard for pigs

The AI Standard is an industry-led working code of practice to assure consistently high standards of AI are received by UK pork producers.

Find out more about the AI Standard

Semen collection facilities 

If you collect semen from your own boars, the following article from International Pig Topics might be of interest. It outlines good standard operating procedures, including:

  • Hygiene
  • Semen evaluation
  • Semen processing

Read the full article for more information

Indoor breeding: AI service

Outdoor breeding: AI service

Useful links