Artificial Insemination (AI) Standard for pigs
The AI Standard is an industry-led working code of practice to assure standards of AI received by UK pork producers.
Background to the AI Standard
Work on the AI Standard began in 2005 at the request of the NPA producer group, following suggestions that AI was a potential route of disease transmission. The industry sought reassurances that a specific standard of AI handling and delivery was being met to prevent a drop in breeding herd fertility.
The standard was developed and written by a number of breeding companies from across England, along with Hanneke Feitsma, an AI expert from the Institute for Pig Genetics in the Netherlands.
What is the AI Standard?
- An industry-led working code of practice
- Voluntary membership to the Quality Assurance Scheme for commercial studs
- It is operated as a non-accredited assurance standard for the quality of dispatched boar semen produced by participating AI centres; it is not an internationally registered standard
- The standard’s parameters are set above those considered a threshold for fertility. It is a measure of how well boar studs can control the inherent variation when processing a biological product to produce a consistent sample of AI
- It does not give a measure of semen fertility. Instead, it provides a measure of how well the product meets the conditions of the aspirational standard
- The AI Standard is reviewed annually by the AI TAG. This group consists of breeding company AI production managers, the AHDB appointed auditor and an NPA producer group representative. Any modifications to the standard are agreed upon at this meeting
- The latest version of the AI Standard was agreed in January 2021
What does the AI Standard cover?
As part of the AI Standard, all genetic companies signed up to the standard receive an annual audit.
The audits cover the following areas:
Documentation and protocols of production and processing steps, including:
- Semen collection, transport between collection and processing, quality assessment, extender preparation and dilution and final dispatch
Hygiene in production and processing areas:
- Collection area, processing lab and equipment, staff
Parameters and thresholds to be achieved:
- Temperatures during collection and processing, assessment and thresholds for morphology, bacteriology, toxicity and motility, boars
Machinery and instruments:
- Service and maintenance, staff training
The standard also includes a requirement to demonstrate monthly third-party test results, i.e. routine testing of the semen quality assured by an independent third party.