Ovum pick up followed by In Vitro embryo production procedure (OPU-IVP) is strongly driven by the need of the breeding industry to enhance genetic improvement in dairy or beef cattle especially after the advent of sexed semen. This has now become even more important with the introduction of Genomic Selection (GS) with the possibility to aspirate very young heifers and collect the biopsy direct from the embryo. An extensive use and successful OPU-IVP program is desired in order to increase the number of embryos and offspring per donor which will subsequently allow an enhanced selection intensity for the next generation. In the last decade, fertilization emerged as an alternative to superovulation and has become the technique of choice for bovine embryo production.
We extract the immature eggs (oocytes) from the ovaries every week. These are then taken to the lab, where it is scientifically developed into an embryo, through a process called 'In Vitro Production'.
The embryo is then placed in the receiver cow, or, can be freezed to be used at a later stage. This method produces more embryos per donor cow. The most embryos are acquired from pregnant cows.
We train farmers to place the embryo into the donor cow on their own. We also make use of milk farmers and use milk cows as surrogate receivers.
AdvantagesThe advantages of the 'Embrio Rinse & Rransfer' method:
- No hormones are used (animals are much healthier)
- Heifers can be used as donors from 6 months (this reduces the heifer interval drastically)
- Even a pregnant cow can be used as a donor for up to 3 months
- The 'donor cow', herself, can get pregnant 2 weeks after the withdrawal has ceased
- Another advantage is the fact that we can determine the embryo's gender beforehand