IN VITRO FERTILIZATION (IVF)
SEK Genetics has partnered with Boviteq USA – located in Monona, WI– to provide IVF service to Southeast Kansas and the surrounding areas.
IVF FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
WHAT IS BOVINE IVF? In-Vitro Fertilization refers to the process of collecting unfertilized oocytes from a donor cow, fertilizing those oocytes with semen in a controlled environment and then maturing for a week in a specialized media. The process results in embryos that are either implanted fresh or frozen for later transfer or sale.
Why has bovine IVF recently become so popular in the cattle industry? IVF technology has been available in human medicine for many years. Previously – cost, production, and availability have all been limiting factors of bovine IVF. Recent technological advances have made the process much more efficient and successful – therefore making the use of IVF in your cattle herd an affordable option.
What are the risks to the donor? There is very little risk to the donor associated with IVF procedures. As with any medical procedure, there are potential risks – including bleeding, scarring, and infection. These risks are rarely seen, even with accelerated collection programs.
What are the rewards? IVF possesses some unique advantages over conventional flushing. Donor animals are able to be collected as frequently as every 2 weeks. Donors can be collected during pregnancy – animals 30 to 100 days pregnant can still produce oocytes for collection without increased risk of pregnancy loss. Pre-sexed or reverse sorted semen can be successfully used to fertilize oocytes with little difference in embryo production rates. The use of pre-sexed semen in conventional flushing is traditionally discouraged due to high rates of unfertilized oocytes. Fewer straws of semen are typically used to fertilize IVF derived embryos. Increased collection frequency, no need to keep cows open to produce embryos, more efficient use of rare or expensive semen, and the ability to reverse sort conventional semen are considered the main benefits of using IVF.
What is the main goal of Boviteq? “Our philosophy is to promote quality, we need to apply everything we can to keep the systems at the highest standards, creating high quality embryos to achieve high pregnancy rates.” –Dr. Patrick Blondin, Ph.D., serves as Boviteq’s director of Embryo Operations and Semex’s director of Research and Development.
What can I expect for embryo production? Average IVF production rates tend to run similar to the average rates achieved by conventional flushing. On average, producers can expect 5-6 embryos from a collection. Some donors are consistently very prolific while others are less productive or consistent.
How should I choose a donor? An IVF donor is typically chosen because she possesses certain desirable traits which may make her offspring more valuable. The donor should be in good reproductive health and free from stress or disease which may inhibit embryo development. In order to register any offspring, your donor may need certain blood tests. Please check with your breed association for special requirements.
What are my donor options? If you have multiple donors, the lab provides a pooling option to reduce mating costs. See attached memo for more information.
What are my sire options? Prior to collection, sire choices are submitted to the clinic. You have the option to use conventional semen, pre-sexed, or reverse sort previously frozen conventional semen (to isolate male or female sperm). You may provide semen from your nitrogen tank or ask that Boviteq order it directly. It is preferred that Boviteq orders the semen directly to reduce the chance of mishandling, special arrangements can be made to transport semen to the lab that may not be readily available.
Is previous sire performance available? Some bulls work very well in IVF, and others just don’t! Boviteq compiles data on bull performance. IT IS IMPORTANT TO SUBMIT SIRE CHOICES ON TIME! Boviteq will provide feedback on bull performance prior to OPU if your choice is submitted the Wednesday before DFR. This will provide adequate time to change sires if there is a concern.
What is required before collection day? Two weeks prior to collection, the producer will need to insert a CIDR and give an injection of GnRH to the donor animal. Six days prior to collection the donor should be delivered to SEK Genetics for a reproductive exam, a DFR (dominant follicle removal), insert a new CIDR, and plan the FSH schedule. A series of FSH injections are given at specific times. It is very important to follow the timing outlined on the FSH schedule. Please review timing and notify us if you have any scheduling conflicts. Recipient synchronization will be needed prior to collection day. Recipient heat detection will be needed on collection day and the day following collection.
What is a DFR and why is it important? DFR stands for Dominant Follicle Reduction. This is the process of manually reducing the follicles on the ovary to initiate the new follicular wave – eliminating the risk of follicular dominance and encouraging a more uniform stimulation. It is performed much like an actual collection (see below).
What is required on collection day (OPU day)? OPU (oocyte pick-up) is a term used for the collection process. Collecting multiple donors at one location increases efficiency and reduces the cost per donor. You will be required to haul your donor to SEK Genetics to collect at our designated, climate controlled collection area and attached laboratory for oocyte processing.
How are oocytes collected? On OPU day, the oocytes are collected by the veterinarian in a process known as trans-vaginal oocyte recovery. After cleaning the donor, a needle guide containing an ultrasound probe is placed vaginally. The follicles on the ovary are located and the needle is inserted into the guide. The needle is attached to a complex vacuum system which aspirates the fluid from the follicles and collects it into a vial. This fluid contains the oocytes. The embryologist then filters this fluid and transfers it into a search dish to locate the oocytes under a microscope. The oocytes are washed and placed into the incubator in tubes containing specialized media. Special attention is given to insure there is very little temperature fluctuation, which will stress the oocytes. The incubator maintains that constant temperature while a courier transports the oocytes to Boviteq in Monona, WI.
Will all of the oocytes produce viable embryos? Generally, 70% of the oocytes will fertilize and cleave into embryos. Not all of the cleaved embryos, however, will develop into viable embryos. Predicting that 50% of the oocytes sent to the lab will develop into transferrable embryos is a general rule of thumb.
Can I monitor the progress at the lab? Contact Boviteq at 608-210-3180 to set up access to your client portal account. Here you can monitor embryo cleavage, semen inventory, and embryo inventory.
What are my embryo options? Not all of the transferrable embryos produced will be freezable. Typically only 45 to 50% of IVF derived embryos will be eligible for freezing. You may opt to freeze these embryos at the lab and send the remaining embryos back to be implanted fresh. We will contact you one week following OPU collection to determine your embryo destiny.
What can I expect for conception rates? IVF derived embryos perform similarly to conventional embryos. The quality of the embryo and the quality of the recip both play a major role in pregnancy rates. A 50-60% conception rate can be typically expected with both fresh and frozen IVF derived embryos. Recips should be tested free of diseases such as PI-BVD, Neospora, Johne’s, and well vaccinated. SEK Genetics can test your recips for such problems.
Who handles the billing? You will receive a bill from SEK Genetics for DFR, collection, drugs (FSH, GnRH), oocyte and semen shipping, and fresh embryo transfers. You will receive a bill from Boviteq USA for all fertilization costs.