Join Claire DeOrnellas, Client Service Director, and Jacalyn Paradis, Regulatory Team Leader, as they walk you through the steps of purchasing frozen genetics online. Learn what steps to take before bidding, and what questions to ask after.
What are things to look for when buying embryos and semen in a sale?
Claire: I think it’s always good to read in the details: Are you looking for them to be sexed? Do you not care what the sex of the embryos are? How many are they actually selling? Many sellers moved to selling four instead of three, and quite a few embryos come with a guarantee of a pregnancy. Read into all the details and know what best fits your program. If you have any questions, I’m sure the consigner of those embryos is more than willing to answer any of them, but the guarantee also comes with some stipulations about who puts those embryos in to make sure you get the best success out of their product that they’re selling you.
What’s the first thing you should do once you’ve successfully bought something from an online sale?
Claire: From my experience buying online, at least confirm. Confirm that you have purchased the embryos, confirm the actual lot that you purchased is the correct mating. And then, contact the consignors to ask where those embryos are located. Sometimes they put a general storage location on the sale because that’s where most of them are or they have intentions to be getting them to that storage facility. Ask them where they are actually located, and if they have released them yet to that client.
For Trans Ova Genetics purposes, especially with our clients, the client themselves must release that property to you. We can’t take a bill of sale from the online facility and say that these are yours.
Why aren’t my embryos showing up in my Trans Ova account yet?
Claire: Well, sometimes it is my fault if I haven’t gotten it done quite yet for the day. Sometimes maybe the consigner hasn’t had the opportunity to send those in quite yet, maybe there’s a misspelling with your name or something just was slightly off so we didn’t find your account that’s in our system. All those can happen. But you can call in and just kind of ask and verify or you can check your MyTransOva.com account to see – that’s live and in person as soon as I move those embryos into your account.
We have a new part of MyTransOva where you can release the embryos on your MyTransOva account, then it sends an email to your client service rep and if the buyer has an account, we’ll go ahead and move them over. Otherwise, we leave them as “sold to…”, and that buyer’s name stays on those embryos and those embryos stay in your account.
What shipping options does Trans Ova offer?
Jacalyn: We have a wide array of options for you, depending on where you’re at. One of our most common options is for you rent one of our Trans Ova thanks and we ship them directly to your farm. So, if you do that option, we ask that you call early and give us implant or specific need by dates so we can get you scheduled and on the list. Another option would be for you to send in your shipper to us, or where the embryos are located, and we will ship them back out to you. If we have a courier going to a location that you work out of, a PWP or somewhere we can send it that way. Sometimes we send between Trans Ova centers; there’s a, a regular shipment to from Iowa to Texas and from Iowa to Maryland so we can get things on the bus that way, and to you.
What are the dos and don’ts when shipping a frozen product?
Jacalyn: For shipping specifically in a vapor shipper, it’s important to remove that product right away when it gets shipped to you and store it in your storage tank under liquid nitrogen. The vapor shippers are only cold for 9-10 days maximum, so you need to get that out of there and safe under liquid nitrogen to keep everything nice and cold. Make sure to transfer things as quickly as possible or have somebody who’s trained move that for you.
It’s important to also make sure that you’re looking for some telltale signs that the tank is for sure cold. One is that there’s going to be vapor coming out when you open the lid. If you have any questions about if it’s cold or not, call, and we can help you kind of talk through that and check it out for you. Another thing would be to stay out of direct sunlight and out of the wind so that those embryos and semen can stay safe and do not warm up.
How far in advance should you set up your shipping plan?
Jacalyn: We get kind of seasonally busy around here depending on implants, and the beef guys kind of have their seasons, so we get busy here in the spring. If you bought embryos and you have something scheduled already your best bet is to call as soon as you can. If you do need it quickly, to maybe have another option, send your tank to us. We can usually get those out a lot quicker. If you want to get on the list to rent a Trans Ova shipper, sometimes it can be up to two weeks before you’ll be able to get your stuff. So, keep that in mind and try to plan accordingly, but the sooner you call us, the better really. Then we can get you scheduled.
Claire: I’d say a good rule of thumb is if your cedars are going in and you don’t have your embryos, maybe give us a call. But preferably before that point.
If someone lives within driving distance of their Trans Ova location, how far in advance should they call to pick them up? Is just showing up an option?
Jacalyn: Depending on our site, we have stuff stored at maybe different buildings within a few miles of each other. So, we would ask that you call at least a day ahead of time to let us know that you’re going to come and you can absolutely come pick up your stuff.
What embryo storage options does Trans Ova offer?
Claire: We do have storage options for you depending on the account type. We start billing for storage just because we do have some cost in that with liquid nitrogen and inventory and such. We want you to utilize your embryos, but they are still here in our vats and we’re not just going to throw them on the ground just because they’ve been here for, you know, an extra month or so.
If you’re planning on storing with us for more than a couple of weeks and you do not have an account, it’d be best that we go ahead and set up an account for you to get those moved out of the consigner account and into your own personal account, so you have control and monitoring over those embryos or semen.
Jacalyn: We use quarterly billing after a certain amount of time if you have your inventory stored here.
Can I insure my embryos when they’re shipped?
Claire: There are many insurance companies that will cover your shipping, your property that’s in the Trans Ova tank, or in your own personal tank. Trans Ova has a relationship with a couple of those different companies, and we can get them the paperwork should you choose to insure your property that’s being sent to you. UPS does some wonderful things and it’s quite amazing how they can get stuff all the way around the country, but there are times that it gets messed up and that’s a very nerve-wracking thing to be put through.
Sometimes the sale lot says the embryos must be implanted by a certified embryologist. What does that mean?
Claire: Some of the embryos do say they have to be implanted by a certified embryologist, or a certified technician. Those technicians are practitioners. They take a test and are certified with the AETA – American Embryo Transfer Association – and that just means that they’ve taken a test and gone through all the proper training to be putting embryos in. That helps ensure we had a certified person putting the embryos in, so we are giving the embryos the best possible chance to make a pregnancy. For them to be able to guarantee that you’re going to get one or two pregnancies (based on what the details say with those embryos) they’re putting a lot of faith in their product, and they’re just asking in return that you do a little bit of background on who’s putting the embryos in to make sure we’re doing the best possible situation for the embryo.
What’s one key takeaway clients should know about purchasing embryos?
Claire: Talk to the consigner of the embryos first to verify where those embryos are and that they have released them. We’re happy to help narrow those down and track them down if we need to, but it’s also a good point of contact to talk to the consigner. We’re all in the same industry. Everybody has a different story. You might learn something along the way while you’re wondering where your embryos are.
Jacalyn: One thing from my end, is when we get calls in shipping about, “Do you have my embryos? Are they released to me?” Those kinds of questions. If you know more than just the lot number, that would be very helpful. A lot of times guys call in and say, “I bought this lot on this sale, do you have them released to me?” And we don’t have any of that information, so it’s good for us to know the mating, the ranch that is selling them to you – that kind of information so that we can find that for you.
What options exist for transferring embryos to satellites or PWPs for implant?
Claire: Trans Ova does have recipient herds. We have recips that are 60-day pregnancy. Those are available for purchase depending on the time of the year and our availability. So, if that’s something that you’re interested in, I advise you to call your client service rep immediately and get on the books because especially this time of year, those requests do fill up fast.
We can get those to different satellites and some of those satellites are owned by practitioners that do embryo transfer. They’d be happy to help. If they aren’t and our team is there, and depending on the facility, we should have the availability to transfer those embryos. We’ll get you a shot schedule for your recips to help sync them up to make sure it’s going to be a day that our team’s there. Depending on where you live and if you have quite a few recips around, we can also discuss setting up an on-farm, and our team will actually come to you and we can transfer those embryos there as well.
So, we can ship embryos anywhere that you need them to go. If you need them to go to your practitioner or local vet to be stored with them, we can get them there as well. We’ve gotten pretty creative in how we can get some embryos in places so we can absolutely assist you and even potentially help you find someone if we aren’t available to do that.
Do all Trans Ova locations store embryos?
Jacalyn: All our major IVF labs can store inventory for us: Maryland; Bryan, Texas; Dumas, Texas; Washington; California; our Yackley, South Dakota site; and our Missouri site. Those have major capacity for storage. Our Oklahoma site doesn’t have much storage, but we can transfer there for implants or for you to pick up, but not long-term storage.
Claire: Many of our satellite facilities are beef reproductive places and they might personally have a tank there, but most of them Trans Ova Genetics does not own a tank there. We’re happy to arrange for your embryos to come and for you to come pick those up while our team is there. But if we need to get your embryos to a satellite center, we just ask that you’ve already contacted that satellite center and talk to the owner if you need them to stay. Many of them are accommodating, but it’s not a long-term storage facility for them.
What should I keep in mind about buying or sending embryos internationally?
Jacalyn: Buying embryos for exporting to another country can be iffy. We need to know a lot of information on the embryos: the collection day, the collection site, who collected them, some donor testing, sire testing, and then how the embryos were processed. Just because you see embryos on a sale that maybe say they can be shipped to Canada or another country, we really would ask that you call in and get the backstory on that, so we can verify that yes or no, they will or will not be able to be exported. We would like to start the export process before the arm is in the cow. That’s really the most important is if you’re thinking of exporting embryos, try to get ahold of us so that we can set you up for success. If you’re thinking of buying something out of a sale, we can investigate for you and see if it is exportable before you purchase those.
What are some general rules of thumb or advice for buying and shipping embryos?
Claire: If you have questions, feel free to give us a call. If we can’t release information about a specific donor or something, we can verify that with the owner or the consignor of the embryos or anything like that. Never be afraid to ask questions but be ready for us to ask you a few questions back and get a little more information on what exactly we need to do for you.
Jacalyn: Help us help you succeed. The more information, the better. Sometimes we get tanks in shipped to us that don’t belong to us, that have no information, no notes, the tanks aren’t labeled, and we have to really investigate based on the address that they came from. It’s really hard for us to figure out who an unlabeled tank belongs to. Even just a simple note inside saying, hey, this is my tank and this is what it’s for, would really help.
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