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Importing Frozen Semen

April 19, 2012

Posted by SBS in Import and Export

TankOne advantage of frozen semen is that the world is your market. Importing frozen semen opens up the opportunity to expand the bloodlines of your breeding program by incorporating stallions from other countries and is a cost effective alternative to purchasing and importing young stock. However, before you rush off to search the internet for your next world class stud, here are some points to consider.

Is semen already available in your country?
There may be a frozen semen broker in your country who has already imported frozen semen from the international stallion you have chosen.  Therefore, it is already available for sale and shipment domestically.  Working with a reputable broker domestically is likely to be more cost effective than importing the semen directly from the international stallion owner. As a bonus, the domestic broker may have history on the use of the frozen semen and can provide you with information on the conception rates.

Does the stallion have export qualified semen available for your country?
In order to qualify for export, semen must be frozen at an export approved collection center and the stallion subjected to health testing requirements as dictated by the country of import. The regulations and requirements for the export/import of frozen semen varies depending upon the countries involved.

In our Stallion Guide, a stallion profile indicates whether a particular stallion has export qualified semen available and for what countries. 

PermitWhat does the process of semen import typically involve?
The process for importing frozen semen can vary depending upon the countries involved, so the following is provided as a general overview when importing equine frozen semen into the United States.

First, you need to apply for an import permit from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Information required for the import permit includes the stallion’s name, age, breed and registration number, the total number of straws being shipped, the address the semen is shipping from and the airport through which the semen will leave the country.

Once recieved, a copy of the import permit is provided to the international semen owner. Based upon this import permit, a health certificate for the semen will be created, outlining all the health testing that has been performed on the stallion and/or semen to fulfill the import testing requirements. This health certificate is then signed and endorsed by the department of agriculture in the originating country. Once the paperwork is complete, the semen can be loaded into the shipping container and sent to its destination. Typically, the tank is sealed with a special tie issued by the department of agriculture to ensure the semen is not tampered with during shipment.

Frozen semen is a biological product of animal origin and must pass through customs inspection. This occurs at both the departure airport in the country of origin and the arrival airport in the destination country. To facilitate passage through customs it is preferable to work with a broker who can receive the shipment, move it through customs, and put it back on track for shipping. A broker is also a valuable link in communication with customs should a problem arise with the paperwork.

Preparing the required paperwork and organizing a customs broker can be a daunting task for the average breeder who may be inexperienced with frozen semen export and import procedures. In addition, there may be language barriers to communication. This is why we would recommend working with a company like us to coordinate the various elements of the semen import. With our Affiliated Network of Laboratories, SBS is perfectly positioned to assist you with import of frozen semen from another country.

Tank roomWhat costs are involved in importing frozen semen?
Aside from the cost of purchasing the frozen semen there are likely to be fees associated with the preparation and endorsement of the paperwork (import permit and health certificate), international FedEx for the shipment, brokerage fees at the airport, tank rental and the fee to return the tank. Costs and fees vary but you should anticipate charges of $1000- $1500 depending on your country.

What questions should I ask before purchasing the frozen semen?
You can achieve excellent results with frozen semen IF the semen is of good quality, is packaged with adequate sperm numbers and has been processed, stored and shipped properly. All too often mare owners and veterinarians have been disappointed with the results they obtained with frozen semen which may not have been processed properly or was distributed without adhering to strict standards for quality control. The best way for a mare owner to ensure success is to breed to a stallion whose owner or agent is willing to stand behind the product and offer a pregnancy guarantee, just like they would with cooled semen. If that is not the case then make sure that the semen was collected and frozen by a reputable, professional laboratory and that you can obtain objective information about the semen quality. See our blog articles: Questions Every Mare Owner Should Ask before Breeding with Frozen Semen and Frozen Semen: Sell by the Dose or as a Breeding

What can I do if I have concerns about the semen quality?
Each dose of semen should have at least 30% post-thaw progressive motility and contain a minimum of 200 million progressively motile sperm per dose. However, it is important to remember that semen analysis can very between laboratories. See our FAQ: Can’t post-thaw motility vary with the laboratory performing the analysis? If you have any concerns about the semen quality, we recommend having an independent laboratory perform a post-thaw analysis on the frozen semen. If you plan to buy and import a large amount of semen it is advisable to have the quality tested in the country of origin before purchase and export. This could save considerable expense if you import a large amount of semen only to discover after arrival that the semen quality is poor. Select Breeders can assist you with post thaw analysis; our testing includes evaluation of sperm concentration, motility and a bacterial culture. ShipperWith these results you will know how many progressively motile sperm are in each straw and can adjust the number of straws per dose accordingly to ensure the best chance of conception.

Can Select Breeders distribute my imported frozen semen for me?
SBS can assist you with the import of frozen semen and store it for your own use. However, if you plan to commercially distribute imported frozen semen that was not frozen by an SBS Affiliate Laboratory, the semen must be subjected to and pass our quality control post-thaw analysis. This is so we can accurately represent the semen to our clients.

What else do I need to know?
Allow sufficient time to process and receive your import and perform any required quality control testing well in advance of the breeding season. Many people wait until breeding season is upon them to make decisions about importing semen, this is a very busy time for semen imports and exports and there may be limited tank availability. If there are any hold ups or concerns about the semen quality it may delay your breeding plans.

This article was updated April 3rd, 2024

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Please Note - photos used in these news articles are available in the public domain, have been purchased through istockphoto or (when referencing breeders or horses) have been submitted to Select Breeders Services Inc. by the breeding farm or horse owner. Photo credit has been provided where applicable. If at anytime you see something that needs to be addressed please feel free to contact us directly.

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