IN VITRO AFRICA
In Vitro Africa (IVA) was established in 2011 in Stellenbosch near Cape Town, South Africa. The head office has in the meantime been moved to Parys in the Free State Province.
Commercial operations are performed in Parys, Free State as well as Stellenbosch, Western Cape. Both the Parys and Stellenbosch facilities are certified centres for the export of bovine embryos and semen.
In Vitro Africa's main mission is to create, through the use of technology, the necessary conditions for sustainable economic and social development of commercial South African farmers as well as rural communities in Southern Africa undergoing restructuring.
Flushing, transferring, freezing and storage of embryos
IVA is fully equipped to do either on-farm or in-centre flushing and processing of cattle embryos (conventional technique). During this process the donor cows are super-ovulated by administering external hormones. After super-ovulation the donors are inseminated with semen of one or more bulls. After 7 days the donors are flushed by a veterinarian and the embryos are collected. The embryos are then transferred into recipient cows or they may be frozen and stored for later use. Benefits of embryo transfers are: Economical Fast method of genetic multiplication of a herd More offspring from selected cows Short generation intervals Valuable genetic lines may be increased
In Vitro production of embryos
In Vitro production (IVEP) is the process by which oocytes that are harvested from a cow by using the Ovum Pickup technique (OPU) are fertilized in a controlled environment( Laboratory) A veterinarian performs an ultrasound guided aspiration of the oocytes. This is either done on site at the farm or at one of our quarantine facilities. Bull semen varies between different collection batches as well as between different bulls. This may cause variations in fertilisation results. In order to remedy this, more than one bull may be used for fertilisation. The semen of one bull may also be used to fertilise oocytes from different donor cows. The resulting embryos are then cultured for 7 days in an incubator and transferred by means of embryo transfer (ET) to a recipient/surrogate animal. This allows a farmer to improve the genetics of his/her stock by only using the genetics of his/her best producing animals. IVEP can also be applied to other livestock species. Benefits of IVEP over the conventional embryo technique are: More calves in a given period No hormones applied Oocyte collections can be performed bi-weekly Using sexed semen in dairy cows produces 90% female offspring Recipients are utilized more cost effectively One semen straw can be used to fertilise 200 oocytes
Cryopreservation of embryos
Embryos are preferably transferred directly after culture or flushing, but the excess embryos may be vitrified or frozen and stored for transfer and implantation at a later stage. In Vitro produced embryos are more effectively frozen by the process of vitrification (fast method). However, thawing of these embryos is more time consuming in comparison to the slow freezing technique (conventional embryos) and the embryos have to undergo a few steps of diluting before being transferred to a recipient. In Vivo (flushed) embryos are frozen in ethileneglycol and can be transferred directly into recipient cows.