ASCC - ACNR completes 2nd Swine Artificial Insemination Project


By Daniel Helsham, ASCC - ACNR

“Dr. Halina Zaleski (center in blue) with the ASCC-ACNR Director Aufa’i Apulu Ropeti Areta, ASCC-ACNR Agriculture Extension Program Manager Autagavaia Alfred Peters, ASCC-ACNR Animal Specialist and Animal Science Instructor Dr. Michael Otto Hansell, and several ASCC-ACNR staff members and students after a presentation on swine management. The presentation concluded the ASCC-ACNR Extension Program’s Swine Artificial Insemination Project which focused on reducing inbreeding of swine and enhance sow fertility, genetics, and production for local farmers.” Photo: ASCC-ACNR
“ASCC-ACNR Agriculture Extension Agent June Talamoni checks on a sow along with other ASCC-ACNR staff and students during a farm visitation as part of the ASCC-ACNR Extension Program’s Swine Artificial Insemination (AI) Project. The AI Project focused on reducing inbreeding of swine and enhancing sow fertility, genetics, and production for local farmers.” Photo: ASCC-ACNR

          The American Samoa Community College (ASCC) – Agriculture, Community and Natural Resources (ACNR) Division has completed its second Swine Artificial Insemination (AI) Project for local pig breeders. The three-month long project familiarized pig farmers with AI as a scientific method to alleviate inbreeding and enhance sow fertility, genetics, and production.

“Healthy, fast-growing, and highly productive swine characteristics are the goal of every producer”, said Agriculture Extension Agent June Talamoni. “However, there is a decline in these characteristics within our local production due to continued inbreeding”.

          To address the inbreeding issue, the ACNR Agriculture Extension Program (AEP) implemented a Swine AI Program with the guidance of visiting authority Dr. Halina Zaleski, an Extension Swine Specialist from Canada. In the program, participating farmers learned about the benefits of AI and the insemination process from Dr. Zaleski. “Through the AI Project, we are able to bring in new genes to upgrade the swine livestock in American Samoa and greatly reduce the risk of importing sexually transmitted diseases, as well as animal and zoonotic disease not yet identified in the Samoa islands” said ASCC-ACNR Animal Specialist and Animal Science Instructor Seiuli Dr. Michael Otto Hansell. For crossbreeding, Dr. Zaleski brought new boar semen from three different pig breeds: the Landrace, Yorkshire, and Duroc. The Landrace and Yorkshire breeds are known for their maternal traits, which in breeding can improve the genetics of female pigs. The Duroc breed is known for its terminal traits, which can likewise improve the genetics of male pigs.

          Dr. Zaleski and a team consisting of ACNR staff and ASCC students conducted farm visitations to educate farmers about AI and inseminate sows ready to reproduce. The farmers received hands-on training on how to detect sow estrus (standing heat) and the overall insemination process. In addition to Zaleski, Hansell and Talamoni, the ACNR AI team consisted of Crop Specialist James Gurr; Agriculture Extension Agents Amio Mavaega-Luvu and Mele Faiai; Agriculture Extension Assistant Sione Matai’a; Livestock Technician Manisesa Danielson;  4-H Agents Elenoa Taisali and Toepo Leiataua; Horticulture Research Assistant Jennet Chang; Greenhouse Technician Eirenei Tesimale; and ASCC students Salome Puletiuatoa, Talofa Fe’a, Kenicia Godinet, Deidra Tautunuafatasi, Natalee Aitaoto and Marlina To’aitiiti. A total of 27 sows were successfully inseminated from 15 different farms. The offspring from these sows will be weaned and selected for breeding animal replacements. The success of the project will depend on farmers utilizing the offspring of the inseminated sows for further breeding, as well as selling them to other farmers to help improve their own swine production. 

          The Swine AI Project was concluded with a presentation by Dr. Zaleski on swine production management at the ACNR Conference Room. After the presentation, Dr. Zaleski, ACNR Director Aufa’i Apulu Ropeti Areta, and AEP Manager Autagavaia Alfred Peters presented certificates to the ACNR staff and students for completing the AI training. For more information on AI and swine management, contact ACNR at 699-1575 and ask for the Extension Program.