Australian researchers have developed the first
â€œanimal- and human-friendlyâ€ technique of collecting semen from male ostriches.
The new method - collecting semen and artificial insemination - of
collection by researchers at the School of Animal Biology, University of Western
Australia relies on the use of a dummy female.
Dr Irek Malecki, co-supervisor of the project, said the technique evolved
out of animal behaviour observations, where captive reared birds become
imprinted and perceived humans as â€œsexyâ€ and worthy of their sexual
To mate, male ostriches rest a leg on their partner, which led to the
development of a dummy female with an artificial cloaca (reproductive/excretory
orifice) as a sperm receptacle. Emus, however, require no such balancing and can
ejaculate into the artificial cloaca held by a person while crouching on the
ground and 'resting' on the person's arm and back.
Technology getting better
A graduate of the Faculty of Animal Husbandry, Academy of Agriculture,
Poland, Dr Malecki migrated to Australia where, after completing his PhD,
continued his research at UWA on ratite reproductive biology, focussing on
developing semen collection, artificial insemination, fertility and hatchability
technologies for the emu and ostrich industries.
â€œEmu and ostrich fertility is now better understood and we can
objectively assess fertility and diagnose fertility problems for individuals or
flocks,â€ Dr Malecki said.
â€œWe've also developed tests for sperm function in-vitro to optimise
diluents and conditions for storage and cryopreservation of emu and ostrich
sperm. Our technologies are ready for adoption by the emu and ostrich
A 2002 collaboration with African researchers on ostrich fertility led to
the finding that part of reproductive waste in females is caused by early embryo
mortality, rather than infertility.