Using Artificial Insemination (AI) in your breeding program offers many advantages, but it helps to understand the process and know what to plan for.
Shipping Frozen Semen
Semen can easily be shipped around the United States. If you have your own vapor tank, you may send it, or Heritage Genetics can rent one to you for $25 per shipment. These tanks can be shipped with regular parcel companies. I have generally had best results with FedEx. You should plan ahead to be sure that your semen can get to you when you need it.
Most people prefer to have semen shipped to them well ahead of time. It needs to be stored in a liquid nitrogen tank until it is used. If you do not have one, you probably do know someone who does. Ask local vets and cattlemen. Also, most AI providers have their own tanks. Most people will not mind having a few extra breedings held in their tanks for a short while.
It is also possible to ship semen so that it arrives a couple of days before it is needed. In that case it can be left in its shipping tank until breeding.
When your semen shipment arrives, check the tank for any obvious damage. (If you find something unusual, please report it ASAP to Heritage Genetics. It will then be reported to the carrier along with any claims.) Open the tank. There should be a bit of frost around the rim of the canister and the foam on the stopper will usually look obviously frozen for most of its length. Keep the tank closed except when you need to get semen out of it. If you are transferring the semen to another tank, open both tanks and move canes carefully and quickly. Restopper and close the shipper tank and put it back in its shell.
AI in Sheep
Unlike cattle and goats, sheep are not easy to inseminate. Their internal anatomy is so twisted and delicate that inseminating through the cervix is usually not practical. Instead, most sheep are inseminated laparoscopically. In most cases on average around 70% of the ewes that are AI'ed this way will settle and lamb.
Sheep need to be stimulated to come into heat in coordination with when you wish to AI them. Your AI provider should be able to give you more details.
In the US there are not yet a lot of people who have much experience doing laparoscopic AI in sheep, but here are some contacts to get you started.