In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) has a number of advantages over all other forms of assisted reproductive technologies:
- No hormones are used
- No long term damage to reproductive capacity of donor cow
- Can be repeated every two weeks
- Can be performed on heifers from 10 months of age
- Can be performed on pregnant cows up to 4 months gestation
- Excellent semen use efficiency – one straw is enough
- Suitable for sexed semen – up to 90% female embryos
- New method of freezing embryos results in higher survival rates and flexibility
- Pregnancy rates greater than 45%
Oocytes (eggs) are collected via ultrasound-guided aspiration of ovarian follicles at any stage of the cow’s oestrus cycle. These oocytes are then matured and fertilized in the laboratory. IVF technology allows excellent utilisation of semen. Usually one straw of semen is sufficient to fertilize all the oocytes from 10 donors. The resulting embryos are then cultured for a further seven days and fresh embryos are transferred into suitably synchronized recipients.
The quality and number of IVF embryos produced by a donor is highly dependent on donor ovarian function. To ensure the very best production outcomes, ART provides breeding soundness evaluation using ultrasonography to ensure only the very best are included, improving pregnancy rates. Nutritional and management advice for recipient cows is also available to maximise number of calves on the ground.
International standards for IVF embryo production are 35%. With the implementation of cutting edge human IVF techniques, ART is able to achieve embryo production rates approaching 55-60%.
The IVF process is illustrated below (click image to enlarge)
At ART, a full IVF breeding program includes:
- Breeding program consultancy
- Expert nutrition and management advice throughout
- Donor cow pre-breeding evaluation – including assessment of ovary quality and follicle count
- Recipient cow evaluation
- Provision of recipient cows if needed
- Facilities for egg collection from donor cows, on site at the lab or on farm
- In vitro embryo production, freezing, storage and transfer into recipients
- 30, 60 and 90 day pregnancy testing
Watch the ART IVF process