Improvement of a Chute-Side Fertility Test for Bulls
-T.C. McCauley, J.K. McVicker, A. Zapien and R.L. Ax
A lateral-flow cassette about the size of a stick of gum has been developed at Midland Bioproducts in Boone, IA (JRM). That cassette detects a specific protein which can be detected in bull semen, where it usually binds to the sperm head. Research being conducted at TMI Laboratories, Int'l., Inc. (TCM) centers on the importance of the protein in terms of normal function of sperm prior to fertilization. The protein was named fertility-associated antigen (FAA) and has been studied extensively for over 20 years as a biomarker for fertility of bulls (RLA).
Reprotec, Inc., owned by Barb and Tim Jackson, in Tucson, AZ, has a license from the University of Arizona to offer commercial testing for presence or absence of FAA in bull semen samples. Field trials indicate approximately 25% of bulls will be categorized as FAA-negative, and they will be expected to be about 20% less fertile than herdmates found to be FAA-positive.
New reagents to make detection of FAA more sensitive were made in early 2006 (JRM) and a new generation cassette is being developed so breeding trials can be conducted soon.