Welfare and pregnancy rate of ewes undergoing transcervical artificial insemination with ketamine subarachnoid anesthesia

  • Renata P. B. Carneiro
  • Gustavo G. Macedo
  • Rafael DeRossiEmail author
  • Eliane V. Costa-e-Silva
  • Maria Inês L. Souza
Regular Articles


This study aimed to evaluate the impact of subarachnoid anesthesia with ketamine during transcervical artificial insemination (TCAI) on the welfare of ewes and on subsequent pregnancy rates. Ninety Suffolk adult ewes were randomized into three treatment groups: control group (CG), which underwent the TCAI procedure as established by cervical traction (CG; n = 30) and two groups that received subarachnoid anesthesia with ketamine at a dose of either 0.75 mg/kg (KE0.75; n = 30) or 1.5 mg/kg (KE1.5; n = 30) 5 min before the cervical traction procedure. Intrauterine insemination was performed using frozen semen from three males previously analyzed and approved for fertility. The use of subarachnoid anesthesia decreased ewes’ vocalizations (P = 0.0001) and abdominal contraction (P = 0.0150) during cervical manipulations. The CG had more groans and vocalizations at the moment of cervix clamping and applicator passage through the cervix (P = 0.001). The cervix traction was facilitated by anesthesia. For the control group, most of the cervical traction was done just up to the middle of the vagina (P = 0.0021). Pregnancy rates increased significantly with anesthesia (P = 0.04) as shown by the rates of 40.0%, 56.7%, and 66.7% for CG, KE1.5, and KE0.75, respectively. The CG showed behaviors associated with absolute immobility, which is suggestive of distress. In brief, the use of ketamine in subarachnoid anesthesia for transcervical artificial insemination in ewes facilitated cervical traction, increased the pregnancy rate, and improved animal welfare.


Fertility Pain Reproduction technologies Stress Welfare 



The authors thank Mr. Celso Cortada Cordenonssi, owner of the Angélica Ranch, for the ewes used for this study.

Funding information

The authors thank Foundation of Teaching, Science and Technology Development, Mato Grosso do Sul State (FUNDECT) for the financial support and scholarship program (R.P.B.C. is FUNDECT fellow) on context of studies in the reproduction area of small ruminants. This study was financed in part by the Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior - Brasil (CAPES) - Finance Code 001.

Compliance with ethical standards

All animal procedures described were approved by The Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee at Federal University of Mato Grosso do Sul (CEUA, prot. 292/2011).

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Renata P. B. Carneiro
    • 1
  • Gustavo G. Macedo
    • 2
  • Rafael DeRossi
    • 3
    Email author
  • Eliane V. Costa-e-Silva
    • 1
  • Maria Inês L. Souza
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Veterinary Medicine, Animal Reproduction Laboratory, Faculty of Veterinary MedicineFederal University of Mato Grosso do SulCampo GrandeBrazil
  2. 2.Department of Animal Reproduction, Faculty of Veterinary MedicineFederal University of UberlândiaUberlândiaBrazil
  3. 3.Department of Veterinary Medicine, Surgery and Anesthesiology, Faculty of Veterinary MedicineFederal University of Mato Grosso do SulCampo GrandeBrazil
  4. 4.Institute of Biosciences (InBio)Federal University of Mato Grosso do SulCampo GrandeBrazil

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