The world of animal reproductive science can appear complicated.
With numerous available options to enhance the genetic lineup of your herd, processes such as embryo transfer, in vitro fertilization, and cloning can seem hard to grasp.
Despite its complex appearance, in vitro fertilization has quickly become a popular tool for producers of all species to take their operations to the next level. Since Trans Ova Genetics’ beginning in 1980, we have used the IVF process to multiply success throughout the livestock industry. Now the world leader in this animal science, there are ways to simplify this intricate process.
IVF – Timeline and Beginner’s Guide:
Step 1: Pick the right animal
If you are interested in the IVF process, it is likely you already have a rockstar donor in mind. Maximizing the overall genetics of your herd is the goal of utilizing the Trans Ova Genetics reproductive toolbox. This goal can be done by applying IVF to your highest quality animals, creating a greater number of genetic offspring.
Step 2: Plan beforehand
Before beginning the IVF process there are numerous questions to ask. Will you use a follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH)? Do you have recipient livestock available, or will you use recipients provided by Trans Ova? Will you utilize an on-site embryologist, a satellite location, or bring your animals to one of our regional locations? With many questions to answer, it is critical to be in touch with your respective Client Service Representative before the IVF procedure begins. This will ensure you have chosen the path most appropriate for your operation. In addition to open females, Trans Ova Genetics can also perform IVF on pregnant donors and young heifers.
Step 3: Before Aspiration
If your operation chooses to utilize FSH to superovulate your donor, you may choose the one or multiple-shot method. Donors that are not pregnant will also be given Gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) prior to FSH. These shots are given numerous days prior to aspiration. Superovulation is used to maximize the number of quality embryos and minimize the short- or long-term reproductive side effects. Finding the semen option that best fits your goals is also a critical step to consider before aspiration. Although Trans Ova Genetics does not collect males at our facilities, clients can utilize conventional, reverse-sorted, and sexed semen in the IVF process.
Step 4: Aspiration
After FSH shots are given (if preferred) it is now time for the aspiration process. During the beginning phase of the IVF process, a veterinarian collects oocytes from a donor with a special probe fitted with an ultrasound transducer. After the unfertilized eggs are collected, they are taken to the laboratory. There they are searched and placed in an incubator.
Step 4: Fertilization and Stripping
Now that the oocytes have been collected and searched, it is time for them to be fertilized. Around 21-23 hours following collection, oocytes are fertilized in a Petri dish by experienced embryologists. After fertilization, oocytes will then be stripped 10-24 hours later to remove surrounding cumulus cells from the fertilized eggs.
Step 6: Fresh or Frozen?
Following the fertilization process, embryos are then incubated for six days. On day six these fertilized eggs are pulled out and predictions are made based on the quality of the embryo. Based on the embryos’ quality and the preference of the operation, livestock owners may choose to place fresh embryos in recipient cattle or freeze the embryos for future use. Recipient cattle that are used in the IVF process are synchronized prior to implantation. On day 6.5 to day 7, the embryos are transferred into recipients or frozen. Clients may also utilize the Trans Ova Genetics Fresh Ship program which uses portable incubators to ship embryos at the correct temperature via FedEx, UPS, or courier to an operation. The Fresh Ship program allows clients to continue to work with their local embryo transfer provider for the synchronization of recipients and implantation of the embryos.
Step 7: Post implantation
After embryos have been implanted in recipients, they are checked for pregnancy at 40 days. At 60 days the sex of the offspring is determined, and the females are re-checked for pregnancy. If the operation was performed at a Trans Ova location, the recipient is available to be moved home once the 60-day mark is reached.
Although it may appear to be a complex process, IVF has been used to produce some of the world’s highest-performing animals. In 2020, Trans Ova Genetics celebrated 40 years of experience in reproductive science and continues to be excited about the benefits the IVF process can bring to livestock owners across the country.
Do you have questions about the IVF process or the Trans Ova Genetics reproductive toolbox? Contact us at (800) 999-3586 to learn about the services that best fit your operation!