Semen Management and Handling

Review these semen handling and storage protocols to maximize reproductive success

Proper semen handling and storage is a critical step to ensure successful breeding. Improper handling can significantly impact your farm’s reproductive success. Check out these semen management practices to ensure you start off on the right foot. 


When ordering semen, use at least 90% of doses within three days of collection at the stud. Each dose will have the date of collection on the label. Every additional day semen ages can reduce total pigs born up to 0.3 pigs per litter. Record details such as delivery date and time as well as temperature at delivery. Use oldest doses first and discard any that have expired.  


Follow all farm biosecurity policies when bringing any semen or AI supplies into the sow farm. Have a defined drop-off place for semen delivery; this could be at the farm office or even a cooler outside designated only for this purpose. For PIC’s biosecurity recommendations, visit our BioShield manual.  


Unpack all semen upon arrival and store it horizontally and loose at 61-64°F (16-18°C). Semen should be placed far enough apart in the storage unit, ideally on wire or open racks to allow for proper air circulation. Storage units should be sized for weekly delivery capacity. As a rule of thumb, allow 0.16 gallons (0.6 L) volume in the storage unit per dose. Rotate doses daily. Always record daily high and low temperatures and reset the thermometer. If a fluctuation of 1.8°F outside the acceptable range 61-64°F (16-18°C) is observed, report to a manager immediately. These fluctuations can reduce the shelf life of a dose. It is best to have an analog thermometer inside the semen unit as a safeguard, in case the digital thermometer doesn’t work properly.  

In the Barn 

When it is time to breed, keep semen in an insulated box or cooler with gel packs at 62°F (17°C). Only take enough doses into the barn for a maximum of one hour of breeding. This will ensure doses remain at the proper temperature. Prioritize fresh semen for sows that need a first service.  Older semen should be used on the second service as long as there is fresh semen available to service other females.  

Prior to connecting semen to the catheter, gently rotate the dose to mix. Ultimately, any dose that is taken into the barn and not used should be discarded. 


Clean inside the storage unit monthly with a proper disinfectant, and clean cooling ribs/fans monthly. Regularly calibrate the semen unit to ensure proper temperature is maintained. Have the unit inspected by a technician yearly, typically before the summer months.  

How is semen cooled at the boar stud to prevent damage? 

After collection, semen is moved by trolley or wire rack to the cooling room. The cooling room uses cool air circulation to uniformly decrease semen temperature from extension temperature to preservation temperature in a specified amount of time. 

To order a magnet with the management practices detailed above, contact your PIC representative.