The objective of this study was to evaluate the seasonal effects of the environment on sperm quality in subtropical region determined by temperature and humidity index (THI). We used 20 Brangus bulls (5/8 Angus × 3/8 Nellore) aged approximately 24 months at the beginning of the study. Semen evaluations were performed twice per season during 1 year. Climate THI data were collected from an automatic weather station from the National Institute of Meteorology. Infrared thermography images were used to determine the temperature of the proximal and distal poles of the testis to assess the testicular temperature gradient (TG). The seasonal effects on seminal and climatic variables were analyzed with ANOVA using MIXED procedure of SAS. Sperm motility in spring (60.1%), summer (57.6%), and autumn (64.5%) showed difference compared to winter (73.0%; P < 0.01). TG was negatively correlated with THI at 18 days (spermiogenesis) (-0.76; P < 0.05) and at 12 days (epididymal transit) (-0.85; P < 0.01). Ocular temperature (OcT) had a positive correlation with THI at 18 days (0.78; P < 0.05) and at 12 days (0.84; P < 0.01). Motility showed a negative correlation with THI only at 18 days (-0.79; P < 0.05). During spermiogenesis, the TG had higher negative correlation compared to OcT (-0.97; P < 0.01) and rectal temperature (-0.72; P < 0.05). Spermatozoa with distal midpiece reflex were correlated with THI during transit epididymis (0.72; P < 0.05). Seminal parameters are not affected when THI reaches 93.0 (spermiogenesis) and 88.0 (epididymal transit). We concluded that infrared thermography can be adopted as an indirect method in order to assess the effect of environmental changes in TG and OcT of Brangus bulls.
Keywords: Bulls; Environmental changes; Infrared thermography; Semen quality.