Step aside hipsters, scientists need your coconut water to artificially inseminate pigs

Ugandan scientists say coconut water can be used to efficiently transport pig sperm used in artificial insemination. (Image credit: Shutterstock)

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Coconut water is a trendy alternative to sports drinks for many people, despite the lack of scientific evidence to prove it’s more hydrating than plain water. But now researchers in Uganda have discovered that coconut water is actually good for something other than human hydration — artificial insemination of pigs.

Uganda has the highest consumption of pork in East Africa, with each person eating about 7.5 pounds (3.4 kilograms) of meat annually, according to International Livestock Research Institute (opens in new tab). However, pig farming methods in many of Uganda’s remote villages make it challenging for farmers to produce enough pork to meet demand, according to (opens in new tab), an outlet devoted to scientific discovery in developing nations. In most villages, farmers keep one or two boars with dozens of females in the area, resulting in inbreeding. Pigs that are inbred produce lower quality meat that is very high in fat. The animals are also more susceptible to outbreaks of diseases such as African swine fever — a deadly viral disease that causes fever and internal bleeding in pigs — and porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus (PRRSv), a respiratory disease that causes reproductive failure in sows.

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