World’s first commercial technology to freeze pig sperm enables stable production of Agu brand pork

World’s first commercial technology to freeze pig sperm enables stable production of Agu brand pork

Purebred Agu piglets born from frozen sperm (photo credit: Professor Hideki Tatemoto).

March 25, 2021 Ryukyu Shimpo


Hideki Tatemoto, a professor at the University of the Ryukyus Faculty of Agriculture, announced on March 24 that he developed a technology to supply frozen purebred-Agu pig sperm to industry. The Agu is an indigenous Okinawan pig breed restored to its pre-war state through backcrossing.

Pig sperm loses motility when frozen and thawed but through tireless research on preventing damage to the mitochondria—the energy source of sperm, Tatemoto succeeded in producing frozen sperm that does not lose its motility even after thawing. It is the first commercially viable frozen swine sperm in the world. Tatemoto plans to apply for a patent for the proprietary production technology.

Using frozen pig sperm enables breeding Agu pigs even in the summer months when sperm conditions deteriorate due to heat. It will allow stable production of Agu brand pigs throughout the year.


Ganaha Livestock (Nago City), Tatemoto’s research collaborator, developed a system to supply the frozen pig sperm to Agu pig producers. Agu-brand pork products manufactured from frozen sperm will be trademarked “University of the Ryukyus Agu-Ryuha” and will be marketed starting August.

The sperm count of purebred Agu pigs is lower than that of western swine breeds, and its motility is also lower in the summer, making breeding difficult. The frozen Agu sperm will be produced in the winter when they are in good condition and saved for the summer breeding months.

When the Camborough pig, a western breed, was artificially inseminated with frozen pig sperm during the hot July-September months, the conception rate was 80%, and the farrowing rate was 68%. Both results were higher than those of liquid semen.

Professor Tatemoto said, “This is the culmination of 15 years of basic research and repeated trial-and-error with Ganaha Livestock.”

(Englsih translation by T&CT and Monica Shingaki)


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