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Frequently Asked Questions

Embryo Flushing

In Vivo Embryo Flushing is the process where embryos are flushed from the donor cow and transferred into a surrogate, where the embryo develops into a foetus and grows until calving. The surrogate, or recipient mother, raises the calf as her own until weaning.

This mainly depends on the cow’s own potential to ovulate multiple oocytes and is difficult to answer. Factors that influence this potential is breed, age, body condition, calving’s and lactation, where embryo quality is affected by the quality of semen used, environmental factors, like climate and rainfall, feeding factors, stress on the animal, farm management, disease and also the reproduction organs of the donor.

The average embryo production is 6-8 embryos per flushing for cows and 5 for heifers.

We normally do not recommend more than 3 flushes per donor after which they are inseminated or naturally bred.

Firstly, if the donors’ embryo quality and quantity start decreasing, the process becomes less cost effective.

Secondly, the fertility of the donor could be affected by repeated hormonal treatment.

Embyo Transfer

Bovine embryo transfer occurs after embryo production, either through embryo flushing or In Vitro Production of embryos (IVP). An embryo is transferred into the uterus of the recipient or surrogate cow where the embryo develops to a foetus and at calving the recipient will raise the calve until weaning.

The first choice is to use cows after their second calving and up to the age of 10 years. By this time the farmer can assess the cows’ ability to raise a calf. Cows also have better milk production than heifers that ensures better weaning weights. It is also referable to utilize recipients in the natural breeding season. The conception during this period proves to be better compared to “out of season” breeding. It is also less expensive since the calving interval of the recipient is not disturbed, feeding cost is less and a natural calf from the non-conceiver is not lost.

First calvers are normally under too much stress to be used as recipients.
When heifers are used, it should be done very selectively.
It is advisable not to used recipients with more than 25% Bos Indicus blood.
Farmers should retain proven recipients or cows that successfully received embryos during the previous breeding season. They are more likely to reconceive.

Recipient factors: Fertility, age, temperament, adaptability, calving ease, adequate milk, body condition score and time post-partum.

Experience of the embryo transfer veterinarian.

The quality of the embryos transferred.

Proper facilities enable easy handling that reduces stress through the synchronisation program and specifically on embryo transfer day.

The weather has a major effect on conception as extreme weather condition may cause stress. Here it is important to manage environmental factors, but it is not always possible. For instance, with low temperatures, extra feed should be fed to supply the required nutrients for heat production.

Management of animal health and welfare, feeding and body condition, proper handling and movement to reduce stress and management the synchronisation program should be flawless.

In the case of newly introduced animals, a two month adjustment period is recommended. This is mainly for the digestive system to adjust to feeding changes. This phase ensures reduced stress during the synchronization program and after embryos transfer.

It is also important with new animals to be sure of the disease status. We recommend Brucellosis (BM), Tuberculosis (TB) and Leucosis (EBL) test if possible. Vaccinations against disease, especially those directly affecting fertility should be administered. Treatment against internal and external parasites is also necessary.

It is also good practice to have the possible recipient group examined before the program start to ensure there is no pregnant animals and to check reproductive activity. This is something your local veterinarian can normally take care of.

Make sure the group of recipients is properly identified with an ear tag or brand. This should also be taken care of months before the program starts, as we do not want the extra stress just before or during the program.
Nutrition is extremely important and it is normally easier to start a program with animals in a slightly lower body condition. Two months before the embryo transfer, the feed supplementation can be increased. The recipients should be in a rising plane of condition.

Vitamin and mineral deficiencies are detrimental to reproduction and conception. It is therefore necessary to ensure the right supplements for your area 4 to 6 weeks before the day of embryo transfer.

Cattle with temperament problems should get used to handling facilities and being around people prior to the program as this is an indication of stress and stress has an influence on conception. You can achieve this by moving the animals to camps close to the crush, move them through the handling facilities every day or two and feed them after handling. This should reduce stress levels.

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).

Yes … This can either be done on site at the farm where the necessary facilities are available or at one of our collection facilities.

  • An operational crush.
  • A power source close to the crush.
  • Shaded crush and an enclosed building suitable to set up the laboratory where the oocytes can be processed under a controlled environment.

In Vitro Africa IVF Direct Thaw method


In Vitro Africa Embryo and IA Centre,
35 Allenby Street,

Tel No: + (27) 56 817 1146