The common piping guan (Pipile cumanensis cumanensis) is serving as a model for assisted reproductive techniques (ARTs) in Cracidae (Aves: Galliformes). Manual collection methods used in domestic birds and other exotics were modified to optimize quality and quantity of fresh semen samples. In addition, a method to subjectively assess semen quality on the basis of its color, clarity, and consistency was developed to serve as a tool when laboratory equipment is not available. In a species where only two eggs per clutch is typical, predictability of the date of the first egg is critical to ensure adequate inseminations before oviposition. An increase in both the distance between the female's pubic bones and degree of abdominal swelling indicated optimal time to initiate artificial insemination (AI) and allowed the number of semen samples used to fertilize the first egg in the clutch to be minimized while ensuring its fertility. In three separate AI trials, a total of four fertile eggs were produced, a first for cracids. Two of the four fertile eggs hatched successfully, and the chicks' parentages were confirmed using DNA fingerprinting. This study represents the first published account of the use of ARTs in Cracidae and forms the basis for future developments (e.g., AI of frozen– thawed semen) aimed at optimizing genetic management of cracids in ex situ breeding programs.
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Vol. 35 • No. 4