Get access

The Relationship Between Post-Thaw Sperm DNA Integrity and Non-Return Rate Among Norwegian Cross-Bred Rams


Author’s address (for correspondence): Anne Bang Nordstoga, Department of Production Animal Clinical Sciences, Norwegian School of Veterinary Science, PO Box 8146 Dep., N-0033 Oslo, Norway. E-mail:


With the aim of investigating the relationship between sperm DNA integrity and non-return rate (NRR) among Norwegian cross-bred rams, semen from 15 individuals was examined by flow cytometry. Sperm Chromatin Structure Assay (SCSA) quantifies the proportion of spermatozoa with denatured DNA after in situ acid treatment, and the four parameters % DFI, % HDS, MEAN DFI and SD DFI are all different measures of DNA denaturation and maturation. Field fertility, reported as NRR 25 days after insemination was based on all inseminations from a large-scale breeding programme and supplied by the Norwegian Association of Sheep and Goat Farmers. From each ram, four straws from four different weeks of the breeding season were analysed, and the associations between 25-day NRR and the mean of the four SCSA parameters were tested using a logistic regression model. The results revealed no association between fertility and % DFI or % HDS, while SD DFI and MEAN DFI showed a significant negative association with NRR. Further, the SCSA values varied significantly between ejaculates within ram among some of the rams in the study. However, no significant association was seen between these intra-individual differences in sperm DNA integrity and NRR. In conclusion, this study suggests an association between sperm DNA integrity and NRR for rams. However, further research must be conducted to confirm these findings and determine whether sperm DNA assessments can be applied to predict ram fertility.