Breed and stallion effects on frozen-thawed semen in warmblood, light and quarter horses
The objectives of the present study were to analyze systematic effects on semen quality traits from fresh and frozen-thawed semen collected in and outside season. A total of 4,681 reports on semen traits of 121 stallions representing Arabian, Thoroughbred, Quarter Horse and four warmblood breeds used for artificial insemination at the Lower Saxon National stud Celle were edited for analysis of gel-free volume, sperm concentration, total number of sperm and total number of motile sperm in fresh semen and in frozen-thawed semen progressive motility, DNA fragmentation index and non-viable sperm. Month, year, age, breed and stallions effects were analyzed with a linear mixed model procedure. Breed differences were significant for sperm concentration, total number of sperm, total motile sperm number and DNA fragmentation index. Hanoverian stallions showed significant higher least squares means for sperm concentration, total number of sperm and total motile sperm number in fresh semen, whereas Thoroughbred had significant higher least squares means for DNA fragmentation index. Stallions with an age of 2-6 years had significant lower least squares means in sperm concentration, total number of sperm and total motile sperm number and progressively motile sperm post-thawing than the other age groups. Month was significant for all semen traits but progressively motile sperm post-thawing. Month by age class interaction showed a significant influence. Inter-stallion variance accounted for 27-71% and the two-way stallion by month interaction for 2-7% of the total variance of semen quality traits. The largest proportion of inter-individual variance among stallions was obtained for the DNA fragmentation index.