Author(s): Brito LF, Silva AE, Rodrigues LH, Vieira FV, Deragon LA,
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Abstract The objectives were to determine the effects of age and genetic group on characteristics of the scrotum, testes and testicular vascular cones (TVC), and on sperm production and semen quality in 107 Bos indicus, B. taurus and cross-bred bulls at three artificial insemination (AI) centers in Brazil. In addition, predictors of sperm production and semen quality were identified. In general, scrotal circumference (SC), scrotal shape score, scrotal neck perimeter, and testicular size (length, width and volume) increased (P < 0.05) with age. Although there were no significant differences among genetic groups for SC or testicular size, B. indicus bulls had the least pendulous scrotal shape, the shortest scrotal neck length, and the greatest scrotal neck perimeter (P < 0.05). Fat covering the TVC was thinner (P < 0.05) in bulls < or = 36 months of age and in B. taurus bulls than in older bulls and B. indicus bulls, respectively. Age and genetic group did not affect testicular ultrasonic echotexture. B. indicus bulls tended (P < 0.1) to have the lowest average scrotal surface temperature (SST). In general, ejaculate volume, total number of spermatozoa and number of viable spermatozoa increased (P < 0.05) with age. However, there was no significant effect of age on sperm concentration, motility, major and total defects. The proportion of spermatozoa with minor defects was highest (P < 0.05) in bulls 37-60 months of age. B. indicus bulls had higher (P < 0.01) sperm concentration, total number of spermatozoa and number of viable spermatozoa than B. taurus bulls, with intermediate values for cross-bred bulls. Increased sperm production was associated with increased testicular volume, SC, TVC fat cover, and SST top-to-bottom gradient. Decreased semen quality was associated with increased SC and bottom SST, and decreased scrotal shape, scrotal neck perimeter and vascular cone diameter. In summary, age and genetic group affected the characteristics of the scrotum, testes, and TVC, sperm production and semen quality. In addition, characteristics of the scrotum, testes and TVC were associated with sperm production and semen quality in bulls and could be assessed for breeding soundness evaluation.
This article was published in Theriogenology
and referenced in Journal of Cytology & Histology