The Journal of Extension - www.joe.org

February 2013 // Volume 51 // Number 1 // Ideas at Work // 1IAW9

A Collaborative Bovine Artificial Insemination Short Course for Students Attending a Caribbean Veterinary School

Abstract
Artificial insemination (AI) of cattle is a critical career skill for veterinarians interested in food animal practice. Consequently, Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine Student Chapter of the American Association of Bovine Practitioners, Select Sires, and University of Idaho Extension have partnered to offer an intensive 2-day course to provide AI training to students attending the Caribbean veterinary school. This collaborative effort includes a unique cost-sharing arrangement that ensures students attending the geographically remote veterinary school receive the educational opportunity to increase their knowledge and develop the skill of performing AI in cattle.


Joseph C. Dalton
Associate Professor, Extension Dairy Specialist
Animal and Veterinary Science Department
University of Idaho
Caldwell, Idaho
jdalton@uidaho.edu

James Q. Robinson
Assistant Professor, Pasture Manager
Department of Clinical Sciences
Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine
Basseterre, St. Kitts, West Indies
jrobinson@rossvet.edu.kn

J.M. DeJarnette
Select Sires, Inc.
Plain City, Ohio
jdejarnette@selectsires.com

Introduction

Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine is located in Basseterre, St. Kitts, West Indies. Students at Ross University participate in a seven-semester pre-clinical curriculum prior to clinical training at a veterinary school in the United States. Total enrollment is approximately 800 students.

Nearly 130 students comprise the Ross University Student Chapter of the American Association of Bovine Practitioners (SCAABP), whose mission is to "increase the knowledge of veterinarians and veterinary students in the field of dairy and beef cattle practice" (RUSVM SCAABP, 2011). Artificial insemination (AI), the first biotechnology applied to improve reproduction of cattle (Foote, 2002), is a critical career skill for veterinarians interested in food animal practice. Consequently, Ross University SCAABP, Select Sires, and University of Idaho Extension have partnered to offer an AI Short Course to provide AI training to students attending the Caribbean veterinary school.

Purpose and Activities

The purpose of the AI Short Course is to provide veterinary students with an opportunity to learn the skill of AI of cattle. The curriculum consists of PowerPoint presentations and videos in a classroom setting on two consecutive mornings (Saturday and Sunday), followed by hands-on training in semen handling and AI technique each afternoon.

The AI Short Course has been approved by the Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine Animal Care and Use Committee (2010). The 2-day class includes sessions on:

  • Anatomy and physiology of the reproductive tract
  • Semen handling
  • AI technique
  • Estrous detection
  • Overview of estrous and ovulation synchronization protocols
  • Opportunities and challenges with sexed semen
  • AI stud tour

The first collaborative AI Short Course was held in January 2010. The course quickly developed into a high-demand educational opportunity in which priority is given to SCAABP members based on 1) points earned through participation in other chapter events, 2) semester of enrollment at Ross University, and 3) participation in at least one chapter-sponsored bovine palpation trip to a local ranch on St. Kitts. The AI Short Course was held twice in 2010 and three times in 2011. Future courses will be held each semester (three times per year).

A registration fee of $EC350.00 ($US130.00) includes the cost of handouts and breakfast and lunch on each day. A "Select Sires Certificate of Completion" is awarded to all participants who demonstrate sufficient skill at semen handling and AI technique, including retrieval of a frozen straw of semen from a liquid nitrogen storage tank, thawing the straw and loading the AI gun appropriately, and passing the AI gun through the cervix of a cow, into the body of the uterus.

Evidence of Impact

A 25-question test focused on semen collection, evaluation and processing of semen, anatomy and physiology of the reproductive tract, estrous detection, semen handling, and AI technique was given to participants at the beginning and conclusion of each AI Short Course. Table 1 shows the overall mean scores for participants completing the pre-test and post-test.

Eighty-three students have participated in the AI Short Course. The overall mean test score for the pre-test was 77.7%, while the mean for the post-test was 96.2%. The mean difference was 18.5%. Eighty-one students (81/83; 98%) received a certificate of completion by demonstrating sufficient skill at semen handling and AI technique. Two students did not receive a certificate of completion because they were unable to pass the AI gun through the cervix.

Table 1.
Participants' Overall Mean Scores on the Pre-Test and Post-Test

Course Students, No. Pre-Test Score, % Post-Test Score, % Difference (Post-test - pre-test), %
Jan 2010 15 87.7 97.9 10.2
May 2010 19 80.3 97.3 17.0
Mar 2011 15 67.1 94.4 27.3
Jul 2011 18 76.2 95.6 19.4
Nov 2011 16 77.2 96.0 18.8
Avg. 16.6 77.7 96.2 18.5

All students completed a course and instructor evaluation form. Numerous students remarked that the course was "taught in a clear, easily understandable manner." Many others stated they "enjoyed lecture in the morning followed by hands-on training in the afternoon," in agreement with preferred learning combinations described by Richardson (1994). Further, students remarked they appreciated the "passion, patience, and encouragement" of the instructors and the "efforts of SCAABP, Select Sires, and University of Idaho Extension" to provide this educational opportunity.

Obstacles Overcome and Evidence of Appreciation for Diversity

The most significant obstacles that have been overcome include 1) the isolation of St. Kitts in relation to AI supplies and 2) the high cost of an AI school at such a remote location.

Many strategies have been employed to overcome the first obstacle. Select Sires has donated a portion of the AI supplies needed (video materials, handouts, and practice straws to be used in semen handling exercises and certificates and hats for graduates), while the instructor from University of Idaho Extension has a) developed appropriate PowerPoint presentations and pre- and post-tests, and b) provided (at cost) sleeves and sheaths necessary to conduct AI (but not available on the island). Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine provides approximately 40 animals for the hands-on portion of the class and acquires the liquid nitrogen for the semen storage tanks. Frozen semen must be stored in liquid nitrogen, yet there is no source of liquid nitrogen on St. Kitts. Consequently, the semen storage tanks must be sent by boat to Antigua (a Caribbean island approximately 50 miles east) to be filled with liquid nitrogen and then returned to St. Kitts.

To overcome the second obstacle, the cost of the AI Short Course is shared by Ross University SCAABP and Select Sires. Non-airfare related domestic travel and meal costs incurred by the University of Idaho Extension faculty member are paid by Select Sires, while Ross University SCAABP pays for round-trip airfare, island accommodations and meals for the instructor.

Although the AI Short Course is designed for veterinary students, three permanent residents of St. Kitts, including the Chief Veterinary Officer of the St. Kitts-Nevis Federation and two technical assistants, recently participated in the AI Short Course. Each successfully completed the course and was awarded the certificate of completion.

Conclusions

The collaborative effort between Ross University SCAABP, Select Sires, and University of Idaho Extension provides veterinary students with an educational opportunity to increase their knowledge and develop the skill of performing AI in cattle. Furthermore, the unique cost-sharing arrangement allows for the delivery of this important skill-building event at a remote location.

References

Foote, R. H. (2002). The history of artificial insemination: Selected notes and notables. Journal of Animal Science, 80, 1-10.

Richardson, J. G. (1994). Learning best through experience. Journal of Extension [On-line], 32(2) Article 2FEA6. Available at: http://www.joe.org/joe/1994august/a6.php

RUSVM Student Chapter of the American Association of Bovine Practitioners (SCAABP). 2011. Retrieved from: http://sites.google.com/site/rusvmaabp/home