Use of testicular tone and echogenicity in identifying boars with low sperm quality

ABSTRACT This study aimed to evaluate the use of some testicular traits to identify boars with low sperm morphological quality. The consistency (scores from 1 to 5), tone with tonometry (mm), parenchyma echogenicity and heterogeneity with ultrasound (pixel) were assessed in 402 mature boars (18.5 months on average). Sperm abnormality thresholds (≤ 25% of total sperm abnormalities, ≤ 5% of heads, acrosome, neck or midpiece defects, ≤ 10% tail defects, and 15% cytoplasmic droplets) were used to classify boars as approved or disapproved. Three classes of testicular traits were formed (extremely low and high values, approximately 15% each, were kept in separated classes). When the traits were individually evaluated, fewer boars were approved if the echogenicity or heterogeneity were high, or if the tone was rigid. When evaluated in combination, the interaction between heterogeneity and tone, and between heterogeneity and echogenicity were significant. The high heterogeneity combined with soft tone or with hypo-echogenicity resulted in lower approval of boars. Tonometry and ultrasonography have a moderate potential to be included in breeding soundness examination of boars. When combined, they provide more reliable information about the impact of testicular parenchymal alterations on morphology of sperm cells.