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The Cow That Keeps On Giving

We’ve all had those few cows that just make us proud. The workhorses of the herd. The ones who breed early and milk good. The ones who always bring a big calf to the cowpens. But more often than not, these cows are rare and we wish we had more like her. Plus with time she’ll begin to get old and eventually head to that ryegrass pasture in the sky. And you’ll think “That was a good cow, I wish I had 10 more just like her.” While we do have the technology to make 10 more just like her (cloning) it is a very risky and expensive process. But there are still ways of seeing calves from that cow make it to the pens. Embryo transfer allows that good ole cow to keep on giving.

Superovulation

Embryo Transfer (ET) is an interesting and deep topic of discussion so we’ll just skim the surface. Traditionally to get embryos we use an embryo flush. Follicle stimulating hormone is given to our cow on a schedule that allows her to release several oocytes at a time we can predict. Then we inseminate our cow with our select sperm. After 7 days, once the embryos are developed, they are collected.

IVF

Another way to obtain embryos is In Vitro Fertilization (IVF). In this method, oocytes are taken directly from the cow’s ovary. After collection, we fertilize the eggs with sperm from our selected sire. Then the embryo is packaged up to be stored until it’s ready to be used.

When the time comes, recipient cattle (recipts) receive the embryo and can begin to nurture it. In this way our prized cow can give us many more calves than she could ever give us in her whole lifetime. This process may seem complex but after looking over the steps it begins to become fairly simple. Plus, with continuing technological advancements, ET is becoming more and more affordable to producers of any size.

For more information on ET please checkout these sites:

https://www.merckvetmanual.com/management-and-nutrition/embryo-transfer-in-farm-animals/embryo-transfer-in-cattle

https://www.uaex.edu/publications/PDF/FSA-3119.pdf

https://www.progressivecattle.com/topics/reproduction/enhancing-herd-genetics-with-in-vitro-fertilization