Artificial insemination is the artificial introduction of semen from a male with desirable traits into females of the species to produce pregnancy, and is useful because a far larger number of offspring can be produced than would be possible if the animals were traditionally bred. Because of this, the value of the male as breeding stock can be determined much more rapidly, and the use of many different females will permit a more accurate evaluation of the hereditability of the desirable traits. In addition, if the traits produced in the offspring do prove to be advantageous, it is easier to disperse them within an animal population in this fashion, as there is a larger breeding stock available. One reason artificial insemination has been an extremely important tool is that it allowed new strains of superior stock to be introduced into a supply of animals in an economically feasible fashion.
The process of artificial insemination requires several steps. Semen must be obtained and effectively diluted, so that the largest number of females can be inseminated consistent with a high probability of pregnancy. The semen must be properly stored so that it remains viable. The females must be tested before the sample is introduced to ensure they are fertile, and following the procedure, they must be tested for pregnancy to determine its success. All these factors make artificial insemination more expensive and more difficult than traditional breeding methods, but the processes have been improved and refined so that the economic advantages far outweigh the procedural disadvantages, and artificial insemination is the most widely applied breeding technique.
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