Improvement of Semen Quality in Holstein Bulls during Heat Stress by Dietary Supplementation of Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Document Type : Original Article


1 Department of Animal Science, Science and Research Branch, Islamic Azad University, Tehran, Iran

2 Department of Animal Science, Faculty of Agricultural Science and Technology, University of Tehran, Karaj, Iran

3 Department of Veterinary Science, Islamic Azad University of Shahrekord, Shahrekord, Iran


Long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) of the omega-3 family are important for sperm membrane integrity, sperm motility and viability. There are evidences to suggest that dietary supplementation with omega-3 fatty acids affects reproduction in men and males of different animal species. Therefore, the aim of current study was to investigate changes in the quality parameters of Holstein bull semen during heat stress and the effect of feeding a source of omega-3 fatty acids during this period.
Materials and Methods
Samples were obtained from 19 Holstein bulls during the expected time of heat stress in Iran (June to September 2009). Control group (n=10) were fed a standard concentrate feed while the treatment group (n=9) had this feed top dressed with 100 g of an omega-3 enriched nutriceutical. Semen volume, sperm concentration and total sperm production were evaluated on ejaculates collected after 1, 5, 9 and 12 weeks of supplementation. Moreover, computer-assisted assessment of sperm motility, viability (eosin-nigrosin) and hypo-osmotic swelling test (HOST) were conducted.
Heat stress affected sperm quality parameters by weeks five and nine of the study (p < 0.05). Supplementation significantly increased total motility, progressive motility, HOST-positive spermatozoa and average path velocity in the fresh semen of bulls (p < 0.05).
Dietary omega-3 supplementation improved in vitro quality and motility parameters of fresh semen in Holstein bulls. However, this effect was not evident in frozen-thawed semen.