Embryo Transfer: A Faster Profitable Way to Grow Your Livestock

Livestock scientists say commercial beef and dairy producers can make significant gains by adopting breeding technologies such as embryo transfer.
Dr Timothy Kasule, an embryologist at the National Livestock Resources Research Institute (NaLIRRI) in Nakyesasa, says the adoption of conventional embryo transfer can quadruple the rate of genetic production compared to first-generation assisted reproductive techniques such as artificial insemination. ) can be more than 12 times the genetic gain. Dr Kasule explains that it is increasingly difficult to successfully artificially inseminate dairy cows.

It mentions production diseases, at least a 50 percent reduction in atypical profiles after each reproduction, and ovarian cycle difficulties, among others.
“As scientists, we provide real solutions if we are to successfully use good breeds to maintain a sustainable dairy industry,” said Dr Kasule.

Dr Kasule notes that good management practices can help avoid unhealthy cows, but it is also possible to increase the disease resistance and resilience of livestock through breeding.
Mastitis, pneumonia, foot rot and many other infectious diseases that usually require treatment with antibiotics can be prevented by resistant breeds. Diseases can be expensive to treat and can result in significant losses, including destruction.
“The common denominator for all diseases affecting dairy cows is the financial losses caused by reduced milk yield, treatment costs, increased workload and unwanted use of antibiotics,” says Dr Kasule.

Pay attention to the features
Scientists focus on breeding goals to include healthy traits in the father selection of sons.
Scientists at the animal husbandry laboratory at NaLIRRI are studying high-quality Viking forms imported from Denmark for sperm and embryo extraction to improve milk production. Today, they can produce up to 4,000 cloned embryos.
The process can be completed with a less invasive procedure that takes less than 20 minutes.
The embryo transfer process begins with cows receiving hormone treatment to produce multiple ovulations (eggs) at the same time. The cows are then artificially inseminated with bulls with the desired genetics.

Dr Kasule from NaLIRRI explains how embryo transfer works to farmers during the Farmer Clinic. Photo/George Katongole

After seven days, the veterinarian recovers the embryos using a catheter and recovery fluid. The liquid passes through a special filter that catches the embryos. Dr Kasule says the process produces an average of six good embryos per cow. Any fertilized embryos captured in the process can be transferred to a surrogate cow, called a recipient, who will carry out the pregnancy, or the embryos can be frozen for later use.

Why embryo transfer?
Dr Kasule explains that embryo transfer with a careful insemination process is the kind that breeding farmers need.
“The farmer can clearly track his progeny for future reproduction. Again, as the fetus grows in a stronger mother, the animals resist. That way, you won’t have a problem with adaptation,” he says. The economy is also favorable.

While AI or natural service produces one calf per cow per year, an animal can be flushed multiple times and produce an average of four embryos each time.
This means that one cow has the potential to produce 20 calves in a year. Embryos can also be frozen for future use and sex.
Other technologies, such as rumen temperature boluses and activity collars that can alert farmers when a cow is in heat, also offer the opportunity to improve productivity with limited labor, he says.
Dr Kasule explains that heifers, the most preferred dairy animals, go up to $10 million, but if the embryo goes for transfer, they need P1.5 million to buy a purebred.

“These types of technologies may traditionally be regarded as breeding ideas, but as costs come down, they are worth considering in a commercial setting,” he says.
He says the success rate of embryo transfer is 30 percent to three times that.

Embryo transfer involves programming a cow with fertility drugs to produce more oocytes (eggs), artificial insemination, harvesting the embryos and transferring them to a recipient mother.
Speaking at the just concluded Golden Farm Clinic at NaLIRRI, a farmer outreach training organized by Nation Media Group-Uganda in conjunction with the National Agricultural Research Organization (Naro), Dr Kasule said the development has enabled commercial farmers to purchase embryos or embryos. select the best cows for embryo transfer.
However, ensuring sperm quality is a key requirement for successful breeding.

Poor quality sperm can occur at any stage of the handling process, but Dr Kasule suggests farm storage and handling is one of the main risks.
At NaLIRRI, they are well equipped to handle sperm carefully, he explains.
He cautions dairy farmers about reproductive evaluation of the recipient for good results.

Step by step instructions
In vitro fertilization (IVF) is the process of creating embryos by harvesting oocytes from donor cows and fertilizing the oocytes with sperm in a petri dish. The embryo is then implanted into a recipient (otherwise known as a surrogate cow) or they can be frozen in liquid nitrogen indefinitely. Dr Kasule, who oversees the process at NaLIRRI, explains how the process works.

Dr Timothy Kasule demonstrates how embryo transfer works with the help of Mrs Robinah Nabukalu. Photo/George Katongole

How the procedure works
The first step is a basic addition to conventional embryo transfer. The eggs are removed from the donor cow’s ovary before the ovary naturally releases the oocyte into the fallopian tube.
Using a process called trans-vaginal retrieval, IVF first removes the dominant follicle in the ovary, allowing the rest to grow. In a normal pregnancy, the dominant follicle inhibits the rest, otherwise a cow can develop dozens of calves in her womb,” he adds. With IVF, all follicles are left in the ovary for six days to develop unhindered.

The donor cow is given local anesthesia and cleaned with a mild disinfectant and saline solution.
An ultrasound-guided needle is then inserted into the ovary to remove the dominant follicle and stimulate superovulation.
Super ovulation is a three-day course of follicle-stimulating hormones administered to stimulate the ovaries to produce more oocytes.
The donor cow is brought to the crushing facility where the temperature is 27-32 °C. Oocytes are collected by trans-vaginal retrieval, with an average of 10 eggs per collection, and eggs mature within 20 hours.

Eggs are placed in insulated chambers at 37°C to mimic the body temperature of a cow.
Fertilization occurs with sperm. The resulting embryos are grown in the lab for a week, passing through eight different maturation fluids that mimic the changing pH and gas levels inside the uterus.
Embryos can be transferred directly or packed into tubes and frozen indefinitely.

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