Semen cryopreservation in bovine livestock is well established, but logistics often require deviations from standard protocols. Extending the equilibration time to the following day is convenient in many situations. To improve our knowledge of the effects of this modification, we studied the post-thawing and post-incubation (4 h, 38 °C) sperm quality after freezing with 4 or 24-h extension in the OPTIXcell extender by using an ample panel of analyses: CASA for motility; flow cytometry for viability, physiology, oxidative stress, and chromatin parameters (DNA fragmentation, chromatin compaction, and thiol groups status); and spectrometry for malondialdehyde production. Semen was obtained from 12 Holstein bulls. The 24-h equilibration time showed few significant effects, with only a tiny decrease in progressive motility and a positive impact on chromatin structure. The incubation removed some of these effects, with the pattern for chromatin compaction remaining the same. No detrimental oxidative stress or increase in apoptotic or capacitation markers was detected. Additionally, the individual bull interacted with the effects of the incubation and the equilibration, especially regarding the chromatin status. Whereas this interaction did not critically affect sperm quality, it could be relevant in practice. Bull fertility as non-return rates (NRR56) was associated with some sperm parameters (especially with an improved chromatin structure) but not in the 4-h post-thawing analysis. Our study supports that extending the equilibration time by at least 24-h is feasible for bull semen freezing with the OPTIXcell extender.
Keywords: Bull; Equilibration time; Fertility; OPTIXcell; Sperm cryopreservation; Sperm quality.
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