Midlands Advanced Breeding Services

Launching Autumn 2021

Midlands Advanced Breeding Services


 Established in 2021, Midlands Advanced Breeding Services was formed as a collaboration between the farm veterinary departments at three major farm practices in the Midlands.
MABS provides an advanced, bespoke breeding service to pedigree and commercial sheep farmers looking to improve their flock’s reproductive performance, productivity and profitability.
Coordinated by vet David Charles CertHE(Biol.) BVSc MRCVS, Midlands Advanced Breeding Services draws upon the experience of a collective team of more than 25 vets with over 150 years of farm animal practice between them.
  • Laparoscopic Artificial Insemination
    What are the benefits of Laparoscopic Artificial Insemination (LapAI)?


    LapAI will significantly tighten your lambing period to give a compact lambing window. If also used to advance the lambing season, significant financial benefits can be found with the data showing March/April sold lambs returning an average 21% better return compared to their summer sold counterparts.

    Semen used for LapAI is most commonly fresh, but frozen semen can be used as well.

    LapAI using fresh collected semen will allow you to cover a much larger number of ewes (around 100) compared to the amount a fully healthy ram would be expected to serve in a day.

    LapAI using frozen semen can allow the introduction of specifically selected genetics from rams, not necessarily kept in your flock, into your flock. Using frozen semen is also especially valuable in closed flocks to introduce new, desired genetics without having to introduce externally sourced rams and the potential disease risks associated with this.

    The compact lambing window afforded by LapAI can also save you money on labour, housing and other husbandry costs.

    Which ewes are best to undergo LapAI?

    The best ewes to undergo LapAI are ewes which have already had a successful breeding season where they held to first service. Ewes should be vaccinated against Enzootic abortion (C.abortus) and Toxoplasma gondii.

    Ewes must be in optimum health including;
    • Body condition score
    • No history of lameness
    • No lambing difficulties
    • No mastitis/udder abnormalities
    • At least 8 weeks post weaning

    Ewes should have trace element supplementation, where required, for 6-8 weeks before LapAI. They should be placed onto a rising plane of nutrition from insertion of your progesterone releasing devices.

    We recommend approaching the team 6 weeks, or more, in advance of your intended AI date. This will allow us to work with you to plan management, and synchronisation of your ewes to increase the success of the laparoscopic AI.

    Why do ewes need to be synchronised?

    Timing is everything with LapAI in sheep. To maximise the success rate ewes need to be ‘on heat’ at the time of LapAI. Synchronisation of ewes for LapAI is best achieved through progesterone releasing devices (e.g Chronogest ® Sponges or CIDR Ovis ®) and PMSG hormone injections.

  • Ram Pre-Breeding Examinations
    Why do a PBE?

    As many as 20% of rams will fail a pre-breeding examination (PBE) and be found to be  subfertile. Fertility can vary or reduce from year to year, and not assessing your rams can have a significant impact on your flock’s performance. If we can identify these individuals in advance of tupping, interventions (e.g altering your ewe:ram ratio or sourcing replacement rams) can be instigated prior to the start of tupping.

    Knowing the fertility status of your ram can:

    • Reduce the number of barren ewes at scanning
    • Reduce the number of ewes carrying over to a second cycle
    • Tighten your lambing window

    What’s involved?

    • A full ‘5 stage’ RAM MOT as advocated by AHDB
    • A comprehensive, clinical examination including a specific examination of the reproductive tract
    • Where indicated, semen collection and evaluation.

  • Semen Collection & Evaluation
    Collection and analysis can be done alongside a pre-breeding examination.

    For tups that pass the initial ‘5 Step MOT’ semen can be collected and analysed as part of the pre-breeding examination.

    This is done through a process known as electroejaculation, something that can only be performed by vets who have undertaken further training.

    The vet will evaluate the volume and quality of the ejaculate, before using microscopy to assess the motility and morphology of sperm cells. Evaluating a semen sample will allow our team to give an indication of suitability for breeding (using the Sheep Vet Society standards), and advise on the best breeding system for individual rams (for example the demands on a synchronised, single sire system will be different to a commercial flock running multiple rams).

    We can perform this on your farm, or at any of the veterinary practices involved in Midlands Advanced Breeding Services.

  • Synchronisation Protocols
    All of the vets involved with Midlands Advanced Breeding Services regularly work with, and
    advise clients on the use of:

    • Ram Effect (teaser rams)
    • Progesterone releasing devices (CIDR ovis® / Chronogest® sponges)
    • Melatonin implants (Regulin®)

  • Vasectomies/Teaser Rams
    A ‘teaser’ is a ram that has been vasectomised (rendering him unable to impregnate ewes), but maintains his testosterone levels, driving his libido and physical mating ability. As a result the ‘ram effect’ naturally synchronises the ewes ready for your entire, fertile rams to be introduced.

    Teaser rams are used to advance the breeding season by two to three weeks, and to tighten your lambing window.

    Ewes need to be kept away from any males (sight and sound) for a minimum of 28 days prior to introducing the teasers (6 weeks+ is ideal).


    A vasectomy should be performed 6 – 8 weeks prior to the intended introduction of the teaser ram. In this period the teaser ram should not run with any breeding ewes as he may still be partially fertile. Vasectomies can be carried out on your farm, or at any of the practices involved in Midlands Advanced Breeding Services.

    Teaser selection

    Whilst there is no hard and fast rule about which rams you can vasectomise, the following criteria are preferable:

    • High libido; teasers will have to work hard and do lots of chasing
    • Fit and healthy; teasers will work harder than your normal rams
    • Legs; sound on their legs, with no current or historical issues with lameness
    • Good teeth; an indicator of health and longevity
    • Disease status: vaccinated (as per your flock vaccine protocol) and screened for Maedi Visna (or other diseases your flock is screened for)

    If you intend to vasectomise a ram lamb, you should use him on experienced ewes.

    If you purchase a vasectomised ram, or a ram to vasectomise, ensure he goes through your quarantine and vaccination protocols.

    Breeds such as Dorsets and Suffolks are ideal as they are early breeders, but any breed can be used if their natural breeding season is taken into account.

    Annual examination

    Very rarely vasectomised tups can recanalise and, therefore, semen collection and evaluation prior to introduction in future years is recommended to ensure fertile rams are not being used as teasers.

Midlands Advanced Breeding Services

  • Laparoscopic Artificial Insemination.
  • Vasectomies.
  • Synchronisation Protocols.
  • Ram Pre-Breeding Examinations.
  • Semen Collection & Evaluation.
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