Services

Collecting, 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.



Collecting, evaluating and freezing of semen (Bovine)

Both In Vitro Africa Centres offer semen collection of bulls. Semen is collected from quarantined animals. A comprehensive semen evaluation is done, including motility, concentration and morphology. Suitable samples are frozen and stored in liquid nitrogen for later use.

We also offer registration of bulls for AI purposes. Upon registration, bulls meet the requirements of the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries for utilisation of their semen in Artificial Insemination Programmes. Bulls are kept under quarantine at either of our Centres while their semen is tested and blood tests are performed.


Quarantine facilities

We offer registration of bulls for AI purposes. Upon registration, bulls meet the requirements of the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries for utilisation of their semen in Artificial Insemination Programmes. Bulls are kept under quarantine at either of our Centres while their semen is tested and blood tests are performed.

Cows can also be quarantined to export embryos.


Import and export of embryos

Dr Neil van Zyl is registered with the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries as an embryo collection team leader. Embryos can be imported or exported from South Africa to or from various countries where protocols exist.


Livestock consulting

Farms may benefit from comprehensive livestock consulting by our experienced veterinarians. Recipient cows need to be in excellent condition for successful in vivo or in vitro embryo implantation. Nutrition affects the reproductive capabilities of bulls as well as cows and to this end the extensive experience offered by our veterinarians may be critical to the success of the artificial reproductive programme.


Design and development of livestock breeding programmes

Our veterinarians offer their expertise to farmers in the development of their cattle breeding objectives. This includes evaluating economic values of breeding programmes and advice on preservation, selection and optimisation of the genetic material of their herds.