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Oxytocin May Increase Fertility of Sperm -- in Swine

  Happy piglet 
  Originally uploaded by barto.

Here's an off-the-wall news item -- or maybe not so.

According to the Tumpline Stackyard, a British online publication surfaced by Google News, some pig farmers mix oxytocin in with the semen they use for artificial insemination of their sows. This is an off-label use, that is, veterinarians don't prescribe oxytocin for this. The article gives no details, just that farmers are showing "increasing interest" in the procedure.

Why this may not be quite so loony: A lot of human drugs find new uses through off-label prescriptions, a process in which doctors sort of use their patients as guinea pigs.

I can't think of a reason why oxytocin would increase the insemination rate for a batch of sperm, but molecular biologists might.