Sustainable Beef Systems Research Group

Dr. Albert Barth

Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences

Western College of Veterinary Medicine

University of Saskatchewan

Saskatoon, Canada S7N 5A8
phone: (306)966-7151

Research Areas and Associated Publications

My research in the importance of bovine sperm morphological abnormalities (first publication 1986) and the pathogenesis of abnormal bovine spermatogenesis lead to the publication of a book and a manual that are currently widely used in North America, South America, Australia and other parts of the world. In the past 5 years I've collaborated with veterinary scientists in Argentina, India and Australia in developing their bull breeding soundness evaluation manuals. In addition, I've contributed book chapters on bull breeding soundness for a major North American text book for veterinary schools and a chapter for a Theriogenology textbook that is being assembled in South America.

I have had major involvement in research on induction of parturition and abortion in cattle in collaboration with others at the WCVM. These procedures are now in every-day-use in veterinary practice throughout North America and many other parts of the world. I've contributed to numerous articles and book chapters on these subjects and I am currently reviewing our work and the work of others for a Theriogenology textbook that is being assembled in South America.

Approximately 1 in 5 bulls is not satisfactory for use in breeding. The use of highly fertile bulls is an integral part of efficient beef herd management and profitable beef production. There are >4.5 million beef cows on >100,000 farms in Canada and beef production contributes over 25 billion annually to Canada's economy. In addition there are >1.1 million dairy cows on >18,500 dairy farms with net farm cash receipts totaling 4.2 billion in 2002. Cows that do not become pregnant represent a potential loss of about $600 per calf not weaned the following year in beef herds and insidious losses caused by lighter weaning weights due to delayed pregnancies often are even greater. Strung out calf crops increase expense and frustration down the entire management chain of cattle production by affecting the amount of time and effort of calving assistance, calf processing procedures, nutrition of pregnant and lactating cows, vaccination of prebreeding cows, calf weaning and post weaning management. Bull breeding soundness evaluation is of utmost importance in maintaining the viability and vitality of the Canadian cattle industries. A great deal of expertise and knowledge is required by veterinarians involved in bull fertility evaluation. A large portion of my research effort has been directed toward gaining a better understanding of factors affecting bull breeding soundness and fertility of frozen semen.

Electroejaculation for semen collection is an essential component of fertility evaluation in range bulls. In many European countries, animal rights activists have succeeded in persuading governments to pass legislation making this method of semen collection illegal. In Canada and the USA there is a great deal of concern that similar events may evolve here. Loss of the ability to evaluate bull fertility due to a ban on electroejaculation would adversely effect the economy of rural communities. We have pioneered new methods of reducing pain of electroejaculation in bulls as well developed new alternative methods of semen collection in range bulls.

Semen quality analysis is essential to both the beef industry, which uses primarily natural mating at pasture, and the dairy industry, which primarily uses artificial insemination. Abnormal sperm morphology, and other sperm attributes have been a main focus of study as spermatozoa are central to the determination the potential fertility of semen. I have provided a diagnostic spermatology service for AI centers in all of Canada and for veterinarians and producers in western Canada for almost 25 years. This service has provided a great deal of raw material for research in sperm traits important to fertility.

Most recently I have concentrated my research efforts in 3 areas important to bull fertility: The prevalence and importance of testis fibrosis in young bulls, new approaches to the control and treatment of vesicular adenitis and the effect of calf hood nutrition on age of maturity in bulls. Six manuscripts are either in stages of preparation.

Outreach Activities

Dissemination of new information is an important art of research. In this regard, I've regularly published in farm magazines, spoken to producer groups, and to veterinarians at conferences and continuing education workshops.

  • Albert Barth's Department Webpage

  • This webpage was last updated on November 28, 2011. The linked pages in this series may have been updated more recently however.

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