The Secret Of Our Success
Embryo transfer is a tricky business. If it was easy, everyone would do it and we’d all be rich. However, it’s true that not all embryos will result in a live calf. In fact, in many places, 50% is regarded as a good result We understand how expensive these embryos are, and how critical it is to have a good drop of calves every time We have studied the best of the best (and the worst of the worst) and came up with these guidelines to maximise the results of embryo transfer programmes. They are the distillation of all the years of experience and know-how of all the experts we have come to know and admire – if they get results, we pay attention. If they don’t get results, we pay attention to what they are NOT doing, and funnily enough, the two lists are pretty close!
This is serious. Preparation of recipients, transfer and the cost of embryos themselves are extremely expensive and to give your recipient cows the BEST chance and ensure a successful programme, we recommend most urgently that you follow the principles outlined below. (In fact, these same principles would also improve a natural mating programme.)
(1) Pay GREAT Attention to Detail
Every one of the various elements of the process is really vital, for instance, timing of insertion/removal of Cidas, making sure you keep the animals calm and on a rising plane of nutrition etc. Near enough is NOT good enough. You can’t afford to ignore any one of the recommendations
(2) Selection of recipient females that are most likely to conceive easily
For best results, choose recipients with a good breeding history. It is best not to use cows that have failed previously. You wouldn’t go to Uluru in a car that broke down on the way to the supermarket, would you? If a cow has not conceived easily with a bull, she’s not going to manage an embryo transfer programme.
(3) Have Recipients in good condition
Cows should not be too fat. They should be on a rising plane of nutrition.
To achieve this, see points 4. 5. 6. & 7. as follows :
(4) Vitamins/Minerals Six Weeks prior to transfer
Start them with a Vitamin/Mineral drench (or via drinking water) – “Nutrimol” is recommended.
Feed only hay and grass until the embryo is implanted, then feed well – low protein, high energy.
(6) Avoid rich pasture
Clover in particular should be avoided prior to and during the programme to reduce problems with ovarian cysts. There’s nothing more devastating than having the vet reject most of your intended recipients at the last moment because they just won’t be able to keep the embryo on board.
(7) Do Not Feed Urea:
Again, cyst problems can be exacerbated by the use of urea.
(8) Treat Cattle Gently.
Wagyus in particular respond well to gentle handling. Have them quiet and used to being handled. It’s a big day for them, give them every chance. Let them feel maternal!
(9) Timing is Everything
It is vital that you know the exact time of cycling. To ensure this, once the program commences it is strongly advised that you draft out the cows that have cycled each day and separate them from cows that are yet to cycle, paying particular attention to noting which cows have cycled on which day/time. This will also make it easier to spot the next cows to cycle in the remaining group.
Embryo transfer is a specialised job, but if you can do it right the potential returns are there and will compensate for the extra work.
Sigh. We’ve worked with cattlemen who have been in the business all their lives, but this was their first brush with embryo transfer. We understand that they know more about cattle than we will ever learn, and we’re not trying to teach them to suck eggs. We understand that the above “rules” seem to be self-evident and something you’ve always done. In reality, they’re not. Look closely and you’ll see that in your mind you’ve decided you can lop the odd corner off here, and that particular rule sounds too expensive or time consuming and … the mind has just glossed over those bits. Time and again, however, we find that it’s not until the second transfer (after a disastrous first program) that those cattlemen understand and really take on board the above process. We’re not being pedantic (well, we are, but that’s the point) – all this stuff really counts. Detail, detail, detail will give you an abundance of babies. Cutting corners won’t.
There you have it. The secret to making baby Wagyus.