General Information > Embryo Transfers
Although most of the applicable embryo transfer (ET) technology was developed in the 1970s and 1980s, embryo transfer in cattle has recently gained considerable popularity within the purebred cattle industry. It is one of the most economical and fastest ways of preserving and multiplying cow’s genetics, more cows get flushed every year and enrolled in the genetic improvement programs of beef and dairy producers.
With the embryo transfer technology, it is possible to exploit the vast reproductive potential of a genetically important cow. While a cow can produce an average of 8 to 10 calves in her entire lifetime under normal management programs, ET technologies can greatly increase the amount of offspring from these cows, usually referred to as “donors”. In some instances ET is used to achieve more pregnancies from very expensive or rare semen.
When a donor cow enters an ET program, her embryos can be transferred fresh into recipient females or can be frozen and stored for later use. The process of collecting and transferring embryos requires that the estrous cycle of donors and recipients be synchronized. This is achieved by the administration of reproductive hormones that are given in a timely manner. The purpose of the hormonal treatments in a donor cow is to super-stimulate the ovaries to produce and release more ova (eggs) at the time of breeding, these fertilized eggs will develop into embryos that will be collected at 6.5 to 7 days of age. The treatments for recipients cows are intended to synchronize their heats. These cows can receive an embryo 6 to 8 days after having a heat. Natural heats in recipients can be used to implant embryos as well.