AETA President’s Report – Spring 2022

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Published on: March 30, 2022

It has been a privilege to be a part of the AETA Board of Directors (BOD) over the last three years and an honor to serve as this year’s president. I have been blessed to be a part of this industry for 20 years. As Paul Harvey said, “The years don’t always add wisdom, but they do add perspective!”

The first meetings I attended were eye-opening experiences, and those BOD members were larger than life to a new college graduate trying to find a place to call home. Over the years, I have watched every BOD deal with their fair share of challenges. Each one, I am sure, feels theirs were the most difficult. We should all take the time to thank Morgan and FASS, and the two past presidents, Matt Dorshorst and Bill Croushore, for navigating AETA through two years of virtual meetings, zoom calls, and hotel contracts. But just as importantly, we need to thank all the businesses that continued to support the association and the industry without blinking an eye!

This is going to be an exciting year! Dr. Greg Schueller already has an amazing program set for our Annual Meeting in Louisville, Kentucky, from October 27 to 29, 2022. It is packed with timely and informative topics, and thankfully, for the first time in over two years we will be able to shake hands and interact with colleagues and longtime friends that we have greatly missed seeing. I promise you, Louisville will be a meeting to be remembered for a long time! Mark your calendars and make sure to attend.

In 2013, the AETA developed a strategic plan that is just as important today. It concentrates on 3 targeted areas for growth and betterment of the association, and this year’s BOD has goals to improve each one.

  1. Education
    1. Increase participation in poster session at AETA meetings
    2. Provide more exposure at veterinary school level: Curriculum, interactive courses
  2. Membership
    1. Encourage growth from within: Embryo transfer business (ETB) employees
    2. Increase exposure to new professional graduates
    3. Increase exposure to academia and encourage participation in our organization
    4. Increase exposure to other species utilizing assisted reproductive technologies
  3. Certification
    1. Improve certification exam format and knowledge base
    2. Continue to develop ways for members to differentiate and add value to themselves through recognition programs

As I have encouraged the BOD, I will equally encourage every AETA member to think differently than you have the past 20 years. As we propose new ways to recognize or educate members, we will see an increase in membership. As we increase membership, we will have more ETBs working in the industry and educating their clients on the importance of the AETA. This is nothing new to our industry, but it needs our attention again. 

I look forward to a productive 2022 and a reunion in Louisville at the 2022 AETA/CETA Annual Convention.

Clay Breiner, DVM

2022 AETA President

Save the date for the 2022 AETA-CETA/ACTE Joint Annual In-Person Meeting!

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Published on: March 30, 2022

The 2022 AETA-CETA/ACTE Joint Annual Meeting will be held in Louisville, KY from October 27-29. The conference will be held at the Louisville Marriott Downtown. Book your hotel reservation now!

All of the scientific, social, sponsor/exhibitor, student scholarship, and continuing education (CE) information can be found on the AETA Annual Convention page as it becomes available. Check back often!

We look forward to reuniting with everyone in-person in October!

2022 AETA-CETA/ACTE Joint Annual Meeting Draft Program

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Published on: March 30, 2022

October 27–29, 2022

Louisville Marriott Downtown

Louisville, KY

Wednesday, October 26

7:30 am–5:00 pmAETA Board of Directors Meeting
7:30 am–5:00 pmAETA Certification Committee Meeting
7:30 am–11:00 amCETA/ACTE Certification Committee Meeting
11:00 am–5:00 pmCETA/ACTE Board of Directors Meeting
1:00 pm–5:00 pmCETA/ACTE Certification Exam (for initial certification)

Thursday, October 27

7:30 am–2:00 pmGolf Tournament
(additional registration required)
Cosponsored by Partnar Animal Health
and Reproduction Resources
8:00 am–10:00 amAETA Certification Committee Meeting
8:00 am–12:00 pmCETA/ACTE Certification Exam Review
(for applicants who wrote the exam)
10:00 am–12:00 pmAETA Recertification Session
(maximum 50 participants)
11:00 am–5:00 pmRegistration Open
12:00 pm–5:00 pmExhibit Setup
2:00 pm–5:00 pmPreconference Seminar I: Small Ruminant AI
and ET
(additional registration required)
Presented by Dr. Rachael Gately and Dr. David Matsas
2:00 pm–5:00 pmPreconference Seminar II:
(additional registration required)
Oocyte and IVF Embryo Evaluation 
Presented by Dr. Jennifer Barfield and Dr. Daniela Demetrio
OPU Tips and Tricks: “What do I do when…”
Presented by Dr. Bill Croushore,
Dr. Andre Dayan, and Dr. Matt Bartlett
6:00 pm–10:00 pmPreconference Social at Churchill Downs
(additional registration required)
Sponsored by Vétoquinol

Friday, October 28

6:45 am–5:00 pmRegistration Open
6:45 am–5:00 pmExhibits Open
6:45 am–7:45 amChristian Family Breakfast
(additional registration required)
Presented by Dr. Glenn Crumpler
6:45 am–7:45 amBreakfast
Sponsored by PETS
7:45 am–8:00 amWelcome and Exhibitor/Sponsor Recognition
8:00 am–8:30 amSession 1: Recombinant FSH
Presented by Dr. Scott Jaques
8:30 am–9:20 amSession 2: Slaughterhouse Beef Embryo Production
Presented by Dr. Alex Blonsky and Dr. Brady Hicks
8:45 am–3:00 pmCompanion Tour:
(additional registration required)
9:20 am–9:50 amSession 3: Beef Embryos on Dairy – ET and
Pregnancy Outcomes
Presented by Dr. Clint Walhof
9:50 am–10:15 amBreak and Poster Session
Sponsored by PETS
10:15 am–11:45 amAETA Certification Session
Presentations by members of the USDA,
the AETA Certification Committee, Dr. Keith Poulsen,
and Dr. Ashley Swenson
10:15 am–11:45 amCETA/ACTE Session
10:15 am–11:45 amStudent/Technician Session
Presented by Dr. Tyler Dohlman and Marianna Jahnke
11:45 am–12:45 pmStudent/Mentor Lunch
All students attending the convention are welcome
to attend the student/mentor lunch.

Attendees will get food from the main lunch area and
then gather in the meeting room to eat (beverages and
cutlery will be in the meeting room).
11:45 am–12:45 pmLunch
Sponsored by PETS
11:45 am–12:45 pmAETA-CETA/ACTE Joint Annual Convention Meeting
12:45 am-1:45 pmSession 4: Sex-Sorted Semen Use in AI, ET, and IVF
Presented by Dr. Pablo Juan Ross
1:45 pm–2:40 pmSession 5: Shipping and Insuring Embryos
Presented by John Stoesser
2:40 pm–3:10 pmBreak and Poster Session
Sponsorship Opportunity!
3:10 pm–4:00 pmSession 6: Sexcel Sexed Semen
Presented by Mike Donnelly
4:00 pm–5:00 pmSession 7: Practitioner Forum 
Donor housing, Young Donor IVF and ET, and
Conventional ET on Beef Heifers
Topics may change
Presented by TBD
6:00 pm–7:00 pmSocial Hour
Open Bar Sponsored by Reproduction Resources
7:00 pm–10:00 pmBanquet with Entertainment by Howl at the
Moon Dueling Pianos
Open Bar Sponsored by Reproduction Resources

Saturday, October 29

7:00 am–3:00 pmExhibits Open
7:00 am–5:00 pmRegistration Open
7:00 am–8:00 amBreakfast
Sponsorship Opportunity!
7:00 am–8:00 amAETA Past President’s Breakfast  
8:00 am–10:00 amAETA Business Meeting
8:00 am–10:00 amCETA/ACTE Annual General Meeting
8:45 am–3:00 pmCompanion Tour:
(additional registration required)
10:00 am–10:30 amBreak and Poster Session
Sponsorship Opportunity!
10:30 am–11:30 amSession 8: Whole System Management of
Recipients Prior to Embryo Transfer
Presented by Dr. Jordan Thomas
11:30 am–12:30 pmSession 9: Donor Management and Synchronization
Presented by Dr. Alvaro Garcia Guerra
12:30 pm–1:30 pmLunch
Sponsorship Opportunity!
12:30 pm–1:30 pmCETA/ACTE New Board of Director’s Meeting
12:30 pm–1:30 pmAETA New Board of Director’s Meeting
1:30 pm–3:30 pmSession 10: IVF Lab Procedures and Updates
Presented by Patti Anderson, MS, Dr. Francois-Xavier Grand,
Dr. Marcello Rubessa, and Dr. Bruno Sanchez
3:30 pm–3:45 pmBreak
Sponsorship Opportunity!
3:45 pm–4:45 pmSession 11: Human IVF
Presented by Dr. Eduardo Kelly
4:45 pm–5:00 pmClosing Remarks
See you in Orlando from October 26-28, 2023!

2022 AETA Annual Convention Student Scholarship Award

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Published on: March 30, 2022

The American Embryo Transfer Association is offering up to 10 Student Scholarship Awards to help cover expenses at the 2022 AETA and CETA/ACTE Joint Annual Convention in Louisville, Kentucky, from October 27 to 29, 2022. The scholarship covers student registration, one preconference seminar, Friday and Saturday scientific sessions, the banquet, breakfasts, lunches, breaks, maximum hotel accommodations for three nights, round-trip airfare for one, and entrance to the preconference social.


  1. All applicants must be currently enrolled in an accredited university or program and be interested in pursuing a career in embryo transfer.
  2. The application is open to all students pursuing a DVM or PhD in reproductive physiology.
  3. If not already a member, applicants must become a student member of AETA, which is FREE!
  4. All applicants must attend the scientific sessions, banquet, breakfast, lunches, breaks, and preconference social. 
  5. All applicants must agree to submit a report and post-meeting evaluation of the annual meeting stating their objectives for meeting attendance, what was gained from attendance, and how this knowledge can be put to use in the industry and their academic work. This report must be written and submitted to the AETA Headquarters within 30 days following the meeting. Additionally, this report will be published in the winter edition of the AETA newsletter, A Closer Look.


  1. Complete the AETA Annual Convention Student Scholarship application, below.
  2. Prepare a 500-word written statement on the following topic: Why should the American Embryo Transfer Association send me to the 2022 annual meeting? Essays listing what you will do at the event will not be considered. Rather, the essay must incorporate the meeting curriculum and demonstrate the anticipated benefits.
  3. Include two letters of recommendation from faculty advisors or current AETA members.
  4. Submit the documents and completed application to the email address listed below or by mail postmarked no later than August 19, 2022.

American Embryo Transfer Association

1800 South Oak Street, Suite 100

Champaign, IL 61820

Main tel: (217) 398-2217; Fax: (217) 398-4119;


All applicants will receive notification of award status by September 12, 2022. Reimbursement of travel costs will be provided following the meeting.

Student Scholarship Application

Reproductive research leading to increased efficiency of assisted reproductive technologies in the American embryo transfer industry

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Published on: March 30, 2022

Request for Proposals 2022

The Board of Directors of the American Embryo Transfer Association (AETA) is pleased to provide an opportunity for funding to support practitioner-initiated research projects that focus on advancing the knowledge and efficiency of applied assisted reproductive technologies in livestock species. The goal of the association is to provide some financial support and access to statisticians that will ensure that the data generated by AETA-funded projects will be robust under critical evaluation, and will be of benefit to the AETA membership at large.

Please disseminate this request for proposals to be considered for 2022 (project start dates between January 1, 2022, to December 31, 2022). The deadline for proposals considered for 2022 is July 31, 2022.

Request for Proposals

Research Grant Proposal Evaluation and Scoring System

2020 Statistics of embryo production and transfer in domestic farm animals

Categories: Evidence-Based ET
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Published on: March 30, 2022

IETS 2021 DRC Report (2020 Data)

The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the embryo industry: the practitioners’ perspective

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Published on: March 30, 2022

Joao HM Viana1, Daniela Demetrio2

1 Embrapa Recursos Genéticos e Biotecnologia, Brasília, 70770-901 Brazil

2 RuAnn Genetics, Riverdale, CA, United States


The numbers presented this year in the Report of the Data Retrieval Committee (DRC) of the International Embryo Technology Society showed that, despite the Pandemic, 2020 was a good year for the embryo transfer industry worldwide. The total number of embryos recorded increased in most countries and for all of the most representative species (cattle, horse, sheep and goats). In cattle, overall embryo production (in vivo and in vitro) increased 7.0% when compared with 2019, with more than 1.5 million embryos recorded [1]. To better understand the apparent contradiction between the positive trends in the embryo transfer industry and the economic and social crises caused by the COVID-19 Pandemic, a survey of practitioners from Brazil, Canada and the United States was conducted. These countries account for 74.6% of all the embryos recorded in cattle. However, their embryo industries are characterized by important differences, which limit extrapolations. Therefore, the current survey aimed to highlight how, in the perception of practitioners, the COVID-19 Pandemic affected the embryo transfer industry in each of their countries, as well as to reveal their expectations for 2021.


Bovine Early Embryo Development

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Published on: March 30, 2022

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Real-time embryo morphokinetic activity can be measured in short observatory periods to provide objective evaluation of embryo health

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Published on: March 30, 2022

C. Wells1, R. Killingsworth1,2

1EmGenisys, Houston TX 77002

2Shamrock Veterinary Hospital, Shamrock TX 79079


Embryo transfer (ET), including in vivo derived (IVD) and in vitro produced (IVP), is a routine breeding strategy in cattle operations as it enables the perpetuation of individuals with high genetic merit, improves herd performance, decreases calving interval, and increases fertility in cows under heat stress and repeat breeder cows (Hasler, 2014; Putney et al., 1989, Ambrose et al., 1999; Drost et al., 1999). ET can also be used to help producers control the sex ratio of their herd, which is often referred to as the “most economical genetic trait” as heifer calves are valued at a premium in a dairy herd due to their ability to produce milk. Additionally, ET is an important tool to enable “beef-on-dairy” strategies to add profitability to the dairy industry as dairy cows giving birth to beef calves keep the milking herd lactating while producing offspring which can be sold into the beef marketing chain. Due to these benefits, ET is becoming an increasingly common breeding strategy for the cattle industry, with some companies reporting a 20% increase year-over-year in number of embryos created and transferred (Genus, 2019). 

Unfortunately, success rates of ET are still low and limits the return on investment. Research from controlled studies report pregnancy rates of 70-80% from embryo transfer, but practitioners and producers in the industry encounter lower rates of these procedures on the farm or ranch (Youngs, 2011). The Canadian Embryo Transfer Association (CETA) reports pregnancy success of conventional fresh ET <57.3% successful with further reduced outcomes with IVF embryos (30%), which is comparable to pregnancy rates achieved in the United States (CETA, 2022). While causes of failed pregnancy are multi-factorial and can stem from embryonic, maternal, environmental stressors, or technician competence it is estimated that 20% of transferred embryos are likely non-viable at time of transfer and will never result in pregnancy (Prien et al., 2015, Vanroose et al., 2000; Diskin and Morris, 2008; Alfieri et al., 2019).

A contributing factor to this problem is the reliance on a subjective grading system dependent on a technician’s ability to grade embryos based on morphological characteristics. While practical and economical, the morphological analysis fails to account for many factors which contribute to an embryo’s health and viability including genetic defects, metabolic activity, acute stress, mitotic activity, and response to environmental factors. Therefore, emerging technologies which are non-invasive and non-subjective to evaluate embryo health can enable ET practitioners to select the healthiest embryos for transfer and subsequently improve pregnancy outcomes of IVF/ET in cattle.

The objective of this study was two-fold. 1.) To determine if embryo morphokinetic activity can be evaluated in short observatory periods and 2.) To determine if embryo morphokinetic activity can be used as an indicator of embryo health and viability.


Single vs. Group In Vitro Culture of Bovine Embryos: Research in Progress

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Published on: March 30, 2022

Austin Byrd and John Gibbons

Texas Tech University, School of Veterinary Medicine

Amarillo, TX 79106


Producing viable embryos and reducing the time between generations is an important, valuable, fast-moving, and trending topic amongst many progressive cattle producers and relies heavily upon effective Assisted Reproductive Techniques (ART’s). In vitro fertilization (IVF) is becoming one of the more popular ARTs as it allows for quicker generation turnover, multiple sires to be used with a single oocyte collection, and more embryos / calves in a given time period. Further, IVF might be chosen over conventional ARTs such as superovulation and embryo transfer because the conventional approaches produce few embryos per collection and the costs are significant. However, the number of oocytes recovered per transvaginal-follicular aspiration session is variable and thus the number of oocytes ultimately placed into culture may be low.  The focus of this preliminary study was to evaluate the percentage of ova that cleave and develop to the blastocyst stage when cultured in single vs. group environments.


Bovine Reproduction Review Crossword

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Published on: March 30, 2022

Test your skills!

AETA President’s Report – Winter 2021

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Published on: December 20, 2021

Paul Harvey is reported to have said, “In times like these, it helps to recall that there have always been times like these.” Though the challenges may seem different than those in the past, there are challenges nonetheless. Heavy workload, supply chain problems, COVID fears, and labor shortages have left many of us wondering how we can take a breath. At the same time, industry consolidation creates a dark cloud of uncertainty about the future.

Some of the many things I love about the AETA and its members are the camaraderie and the willingness of members to lend a hand to each other, whether it be helping with a technical problem, lending supplies, or referring a client to another practitioner when the book gets full. It is that spirit of cooperation that is good for business in the long term, even if it subtracts from the bottom line in the short term.

I congratulate Dr. Matt Barton and Dr. Lee Jones on their election to the Board of Directors. I also wish to thank both of them and also Dr. Darren Statler and Dr. Alan Strecker for running for that position. One of my duties for 2022 will be to chair the Nominations Committee, which, as part of its charge, will identify potential candidates for the next Board of Directors. If you desire to be on the ballot or know of someone that would make a good board member, please reach out to me.

I also thank Dr. Matt Dorshorst upon his departure from the board for his time on the board and Executive Committee and also Dr. Jeremy VanBoening for his service to the AETA through the Board of Directors. The association is better because of both of them. I am looking forward to my role as past president with the new Executive Committee of Dr. Clay Breiner, president; Dr. Greg Schueller, vice president; and Dr. Daniela Demetrio, secretary-treasurer.

Still, we have work to do to maintain the standing of the AETA in the embryo transfer world here in the United States. To maintain the high standards the industry demands and deserves, we have to keep in mind our purpose:

  • To present a unified voice of the industry to promote the mutual interests and ideals of its members;
  • To protect the users of the embryo transfer industry to the extent technically and ethically possible;
  • To educate the public properly on the status and capability of the United States embryo transfer industry; and
  • To encourage others to engage in the pursuit of this industry.

To achieve our purpose, we need to keep before us the means to fulfil it, namely education and certification. In the coming year, we will continue to explore the prospect of recognizing practitioners only engaged in the transfer of embryos (and not collections) as a means to raise the bar for the industry. Although it will be a type of certification for the transfer of embryos into recipients, it is not likely to be called “certification” to avoid confusion with the comprehensive ET Certification program already in place within the association. We will engage the membership as this initiative progresses.

Dr. Greg Schueller is already at work with the Convention Committee in assembling an outstanding program for Louisville, 2022. Although the virtual conventions provided education and made us better practitioners, the friendships and person-to-person interaction were sorely missed. That will resume in 2022. The Education Committee is working on developing a speaker’s bureau to provide speakers to allied veterinary and industry groups wishing to learn more about the practice of embryo transfer. This will be a longer-term project, and I look forward to seeing it develop.

Finally, I need to thank the membership for allowing me the opportunity to steward this association during the past year. My only hope is that I left the association as good as it was before I joined the board. I am grateful for the many friends I have made during my tenure, and while my time on the board is coming to an end, those friendships are not.

Fight the good fight,


Dr. Bill Croushore – AETA President 2021

Thank You to the 2021 Annual Meeting Sponsors

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Published on: December 20, 2021

AETA would like to extend a special thank you to the 2021 AETA-CETA/ACTE convention sponsors.






The AETA Announces 2022 Board of Directors

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Published on: December 20, 2021

Champaign, IL, December 2021 – The 2021 Annual Meeting of the American Embryo Transfer Association was held October 15 and 16. More than 400 national and international attendees came together virtually to learn more about the most recent advances in advanced bovine reproductive procedures and technology.

The incoming 2022 AETA Board of Directors is listed below.

Board of Directors

President – Dr. Clay Breiner, Westmoreland, KS

Vice President – Dr. Greg Schueller, Whitewater, WI

Secretary-Treasurer – Dr. Daniela Demetrio, Riverdale, CA

Immediate Past President – Dr. William Croushore, Berlin, PA

Director – Dr. Pat Comyn, Madison, VA

Director – Dr. Brad Lindsey, Midway, TX

Director – Dr. Charles Gue, Belgrade, MT

Director – Dr. Matthew Bartlett, Sioux Center, IA

Director – Dr. Lee Jones, Tifton, GA

In addition, the AETA announces its 2022 joint annual convention with the Canadian Embryo Transfer Association (CETA), to be held from October 27-29, 2022 in Louisville, KY

The purpose of the AETA is to unite those organizations and individuals in the United States engaged in the embryo transfer industry into an affiliated federation operating under self-imposed standards of performance and conduct. Members aim to present a unified voice of the industry to promote the mutual interests and ideals of the members; to protect the users of the embryo transfer industry to the extent technically and ethically possible; to educate the public properly on the status and capability of the United States embryo transfer industry; and to encourage others to engage in the pursuit of this industry. For more information about the AETA, please visit

Veterinary School Update: Texas Tech University – School of Veterinary Medicine (TTU-SVM)

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Published on: December 20, 2021

The inaugural veterinary class of the Texas Tech University – School of Veterinary Medicine (TTU-SVM) has completed their first semester at the new campus in Amarillo Texas.  The new building, located on the campus of the Texas Tech University Health Science Center, contains 190,000 square feet of teaching and research space complete with two 100-seat active learning classrooms, a 400-seat auditorium as well as many break out rooms, faculty offices, spaces for up to 100 graduate students, conference rooms, and student study rooms.  The research laboratory spaces average about 2,000 square feet.  There is also an 80,000 square foot teaching and research station just a few miles from the main building that houses resident cattle and horse herds and can accommodate many different species as needed. 

The curriculum is very “hands on” and reflects the interests of animal producers in the region and our more than 60 corporate partners throughout Texas that will serve as mentors and educators for the students in their clinical year of the 4-year distributive program.  Although there are only “first years” on campus currently, Drs. Philippa Gibbons (BVetMed(Hons) MS DACVIM(LA) MRCVS DipVetEd) and Jennifer Koziol (DVM, MS, DACT) are developing the course work that will provide some of the clinical basis for the student’s education and readiness to become Day 1 ready large animal veterinarians.  As part of the large animal curriculum, reproduction will be a focal point as stated by Drs. Gibbons and Koziol: “Students at TTU will be well versed in common food animal reproductive procedures upon completion of the program. Students will begin to perform transrectal palpations in cattle in their 1st year and continue throughout their curriculum. Evaluation of semen is scheduled to begin in the 2nd year and will continue into the 4th year when students can participate in bull breeding soundness exam electives. The hope is to graduate veterinarians that are practice-ready and ready to return to their rural and regional communities and serve the livestock industry”

Courses on embryo transfer and other assisted reproductive techniques will also be a portion of the elective curriculum.  The primary focus of the TTU-SVM is to produce veterinarians that are suited to provide veterinary services for the area of west Texas and beyond as reflected in our mission statement: “Providing high-quality, affordable veterinary medical education that emphasizes One Health principles and general veterinary practice in rural and regional communities across major domestic species”.  This unique opportunity is not lost on the veterinary students as stated by Randal Howard (Class of 2025) “Our program focuses on ‘practice ready veterinarians’ as is evident by our curriculum.  Within the first couple of weeks, we were beginning to perform physical exams on small animals and cattle”. 

Many of the students in the inaugural class are from rural and regional communities and understand the “necessity of having a solid, reliable veterinary practice close by” and “recognize the importance of having a veterinarian familiar with the goals of the respective industries in the area” according to Kayla Wallace (Class of 2025).  Many of the students come to TTU-SVM with considerable experience in agriculture and livestock in particular.  There are also potentially, several budding embryo transfer practitioners in the mix as indicated by Dalton Deckert’s (Class of 2025) experience “I worked for an embryologist and bovine reproductive specialist for two years while I was an undergraduate student, and I was involved in IVF, conventional embryo collections, and artificial insemination in cattle and goats as well as semen collection from bulls”.  The focus on producing practice ready veterinarians to provide services for rural and regional communities in west Texas and beyond is also reflected by our core values of Community, Integrity, Kindheartedness, Grit, and Inspiration.  For more information about the TTU-SVM please visit:

Veterinary School Update: University of Arizona College of Veterinary Medicine

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Published on: December 20, 2021

The University of Arizona College of Veterinary Medicine is a new program that breaks the mold of traditional veterinary medicine curriculum. Our first six semesters are dedicated to learning about different organ systems. Courses are formatted for students to learn about multiple disciplines associated with each system and the uniqueness of the system in each species. In addition, students have clinical skills and professional skills courses with topics that build on the current organ system being studied.

During the courses, students have many opportunities to learn about large animal medicine in addition to companion animal medicine. During the GI course, students learn the differences between ruminant, hind gut fermenters, and monogastric digestive systems and had an opportunity to learn how to perform abdominal physical exams on some of the species from each group. This hands-on experience allows them to recognize normal and abnormal parameters to assist in generating differential diagnoses lists in the future. Similarly, the musculoskeletal course provides students the opportunity to learn about lameness in horses and hoof trimming in ruminants.

One of the more anticipated courses so far has been the “Cycle of Life.” Beyond learning about estrus cycles, gestation lengths, oogenesis and spermatogenesis, the students were introduced to examination of the uterus by rectal palpation (bovine), the prebreeding and cycle status exams (equine), and dystocia correction in ruminants and equine. By far the most excitement occurred during the lab which utilized the dystocia models.

Both the Food Animal Club and Equine Club (AAEP) have large student memberships and are regularly active at the college. Members of the Food Animal Club have, on multiple occasions, helped process cattle on local ranches and toured dairy facilities. A program has been established by the club for students to participate in regular pregnancy checks at a local dairy farm. Additionally, ten club members have been trained in bovine artificial insemination and there is a lot of interest in embryo transfer with students and staff working hard to get it organized. The AAEP has conducted wet labs throughout the year and several members participated in a burro castration through our partnership with the Bureau of Land Management. Other events, such as an equine lameness wet lab and an equine lymphatic drainage wet lab were held at the CVM facilities on the Campus Agriculture Center farm.

We’re grateful to have the Campus Agricultural Center as an extension of our program. Our large animal learning facility has opened the doors for our students to learn about large animal medicine and experience valuable hands-on training prior to their clinical year.

For more information please visit:

Dr. Gayle Leith and DVM students at a lab at the Campus Agricultural Center
Dr. Tony Martin teaching at the Bovine Education Extension Facility

The effects of sire, lactation number, and time of the year on late embryo mortality in dairy cattle

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Published on: December 20, 2021

C. Bailey, J. Gibbons, P. Melendez

Texas Tech University, School of Veterinary Medicine, Amarillo, TX 79106


In the dairy industry, there has been considerable drive to maximize birthing rates and profitability by using genetics from beef cattle in both lower performing and lower genetic quality cows. This has allowed cows that are of average quality or aged genetics to provide added value to the operation in the form of crossbred calves for the beef industry.

One measure of infertility in multiparous cows is late embryonic mortality. Although there is likely a higher percentage of embryonic loss during early pregnancy (prior to Day 30; [1]), late embryonic mortality (LEM; defined as pregnancy loss that occurs between 30 and 60 days of gestation) is also a contributor to low profitability. Other research has shown that roughly 12.8% of dairy cows will undergo LEM between 28-42 days post-breeding, averaging a 0.85% loss per day [1].  Some of the factors that cause LEM include genetics, infectious diseases, poor prophylactic management, sanitation, and season of the year.  However, genetic defects of the embryo may also account for up to 20% of early embryonic mortalities [2].

A common method of detecting pregnancy is by measuring Pregnancy Specific Protein B (PSPB) and plasma progesterone (P4) at specific times post insemination. An assay testing PSPB levels indicate a positive pregnancy if PSPB levels are a >10% above non-pregnant cow levels approximately 28 days post artificial insemination [3,4]. Elevated progesterone concentrations (>1 ng/ml) are also useful as a pregnancy detection aid, as they typically begin to taper off around 15 days post estrus in the non-pregnant cow but, are maintained in pregnant cows [5]. Both PSPB and P4 were evaluated and compared between groups in a subset of cows in this study.

The objective of this study was to compare the LEM of Holstein cows bred to Limousin bulls to Holstein cows bred to Holstein bulls. Optical density as a measure of PSPB and P4 concentrations were also evaluated from a blood sample collected at 30 days post breeding for comparison between a subset of 25 cows per group. Further, the LEM was evaluated based upon the time of year that the breeding occurred Summer (April 1 – September 30) and Non-Summer (October 1 – March 31).


The Limousin X Holstein and Holstein X Holstein breedings in this study were from a large dairy in the southeast US, which consisted of 12,847 Holstein cows. In this herd, 1,166 cows were dry with an average of 171 days open. The cows were milked 3 times a day with a rolling herd average of 14,600 kg of milk per year and were fed a total mixed ration based on corn silage, grass silage, and concentrates. The reproductive program consisted of a 60-day voluntary waiting period and timed artificial insemination using a variety of ovulation synchronization protocols. Cows were diagnosed for pregnancy status by trans-rectal ultrasound between 28 to 35 days post breeding. If the cow was diagnosed open, she was subjected to a resynchronization protocol. If the cow was diagnosed as pregnant, she was rechecked for pregnancy status between 50 to 57 days post breeding by rectal palpation. Blood was collected at random (n = 25 cows per group) at the time of ultrasound pregnancy diagnosis (28-35 days) and tested for PSPB levels expressed as optical densities and P4 concentrations measured by Radio-immuno Assay.


Normal LEM for this herd is approximately 12%. Overall, for all cows bred in the summer the LEM was 15.2 ± 0.6% while those bred in the non-summer had an LEM of 9.9 ± 0.3%, (P<0.0001). Overall, for all Holstein X Holstein embryos the LEM was 15.2 ± 0.6% while the LEM for all Limousin X Holstein embryos was 9.8 ± 0.3%, (P<0.0001).  Differences (P<0.05) in LEM between Holstein x Holstein and Limousin X Holstein were observed during the non-summer months (15.1 ± 0.8% versus 8.3 ± 0.3%, respectively) but not for the summer months (15.1 ± 0.9% and 15.3 ± 0.9%, respectively). summer = 15.23 +/- 0.6%, non-summer = 9.88 +/- 0.3%    P<0.0001

In Figure 1, lactations within breed combination that do not share a common superscript are different (P<0.05). Further, there was a trend (P=0.08) for a difference between Lactation 2 and Lactation 3 for Limousin X Holstein embryos in the non-summer months and there was a breed combination difference (P<0.05) for all lactations during the non-summer months but not for any lactations during the summer months.

Figure 1.  Late embryo mortality (mean ± SEM) percentage over multiple lactation in Holstein cows either bred to Holstein or Limousin bulls that were confirmed pregnant at approximately 30 days post timed artificial insemination either during the summer or non-summer months (see text for more details).

Effects of Season on LEM 

Cows bred in the summer months (Figure 1), regardless of mating, had a higher LEM compared to cows bred in the non-summer months.  A substantial difference in fertility was noted among cows carrying crossbred embryos especially during the non-summer months. Taken together, these data suggest that heat stress during the summer months combined with the stress of milk production, may affect the uterine environment specifically and these stressors cannot be overcome by altering the breed of the sire.  Alternatively, in the non-summer months, the crossbred embryo apparently adapts more readily to the stress of milk production alone than do the Holstein X Holstein embryos.

Protein Specific Protein B and Progesterone

Optical densities of PSPB and P4 concentrations were compared between groups that were diagnosed pregnant at Day 30. The results showed a PSPB optical density of 4.44 in the Holstein X Holstein group and a 3.25 in the Limousin X Holstein group with a pooled standard error of ± 0.27 and a P-Value of 0.023.  Progesterone concentrations were not different (P>0.05) between groups and were 8.66 ng/ml in the Holstein X Holstein group and 8.96 ng/ml in the Limousin X Holstein group with a pooled standard error of ± 0.57.


This field study demonstrated that breeding Holstein cows with Limousin semen reduced LEM by approximately 4% overall and there were seasonal and lactational differences in LEM. During the summer months, the breed combination had a lesser effect on LEM perhaps as all cows exhibited some form of heat stress; however, during the non-summer months, purebred Holstein embryos had a higher LEM than the Limousin X Holstein crossbred embryos, indicating inherent embryo loss dynamics due to factors other than genetics or lactation. These results indicated that breeding beef bulls to lower quality genetic Holstein cows decreased LEM regardless of time of year. However, the lower LEM was especially evident in early lactation cows bred during the non-summer months which likely contains cows that can still contribute genetically to the herd.  The exact components of the “protective mechanism” associated with producing crossbred embryos may be due to hybrid vigor, but has not been fully elucidated; however, it seems to be mostly present during the non-summer months underscoring the ever-present stress of milk production on the females.  The heat induced stress associated with the summer months historically [6] leads to an increase in LEM rates in Holstein embryos and was lactation dependent in both groups in this study. Progesterone concentrations for both groups were similar indicating that corpus luteum function was likely not related to LEM.  Lower optical density which is reflective of the concentration of PSPB was seen in Holstein cows bred to Limousin bulls versus Holstein bulls. More research may be necessary to determine if PSPB plays a role in embryo viability during early pregnancy or if elevated optical density of PSPB is reflective of embryos in distress [7].


1)  Wiltbank MC, Baez GM, Garcia-Guerra A, Toledo MZ, Monteiro PLJ, Melo LF, Ochoa JC, Santos JEP, and Sartori R. (2016). Pivotal periods for pregnancy loss during the first trimester of gestation in lactating dairy cows. Theriogenology, 86(1), 239–253. 

2)  Alfieri AA, Leme RA, Agnol AMD, and Alfieri AF.  (2019). Sanitary program to reduce embryonic mortality associated with infectious diseases in cattle.  Animal reproduction vol. 16,3 386-393. 22 Oct. 2019, doi:10.21451/1984-3143-AR2019-0073 

3)  Humblot F, Camous S, Martal J, Charlery J, Jeanguyot N, ThibierM, and Sasser RG. (1988).  Pregnancy-specific protein B, progesterone concentrations and embryonic mortality during early pregnancy in dairy cows. J Reprod Fertil. 1988 May;83(1):215-23. doi: 10.1530/jrf.0.0830215. PMID: 3397939.

4)  Middleton EL, and Pursley JR. (2019).  Short communication: Blood samples before and after embryonic attachment accurately determine non-pregnant lactating dairy cows at 24 d post-artificial insemination using a commercially available assay for pregnancy-specific protein B. J Dairy Sci. 2019 Aug;102(8):7570-7575. doi: 10.3168/jds.2018-15961. Epub2019 Jun 6. PMID: 31178191.

5)  Thirapatsukun T, KW Entwistle, and Gartner, RJW.  (1978). Plasma Progesterone Levels as an Early Pregnancy Test in Beef Cattle.  Theriogenology, Vol. 9, no. 4, pp. 323-332.

6)  Morton, JM, Tranter, WP, Mayer, DG, and Jonsson, NN. (2007). Effects of environmental heat on conception rates in lactating dairy cows: Critical periods of exposure. Journal of Dairy Science, 90(5), 2271–2278. 

7)  Thompson, IM, Tao, S, Branen, J, Ealy, AD, and Dahl, GE. (2013). Environmental regulation of pregnancy-specific protein B concentrations during late pregnancy in dairy cattle1. Journal of Animal Science, 91(1), 168–173. 

Dominant Follicle Removal Prior to Superovulation in Ewes

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Published on: December 20, 2021

 T. Mittleider a , C. Holcomba , D. Hobbs a, D. Davis c, L. Miller a , J. Gibbons a, b, d

a College of Veterinary Medicine, b DeBusk College of Osteopathic Medicine, Lincoln Memorial University, Harrogate, TN, 37752, c Laurel Highlands Animal Health, Somerset, PA, 15501, d Texas Tech University – School of Veterinary Medicine, Amarillo, TX, 79106

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The Effects of Melatonin on Ovine Estrus Cyclicity

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Published on: December 20, 2021

C. Holcomb b , D. Hobbs b, J. Gibbons a, b, d, D. Davis c

a College of Veterinary Medicine, b DeBusk College of Osteopathic Medicine, Lincoln Memorial University, Harrogate, TN, 37752, c Laurel Highlands Animal Health, Somerset, PA, 15501, d Texas Tech University – School of Veterinary Medicine, Amarillo, TX, 79106

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AETA President’s Report – Summer 2021

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Published on: August 18, 2021

The challenge of a long winter is finally over. It seems, however, that as one challenge winds down, others arise. As the significance of the pandemic subsides, other challenges manifest, such as labor shortages and hiccups in the commodity markets. Consolidation of farms creates both a disruption to the status quo and opportunity at the same time. Warm temperatures bring the flush of spring pasture and also the rear ends of recipient cows capable of filling your pocket with a slimy effluent. We take the good with the bad.

To say the past year has been a challenge would be stating the obvious.  Despite the progress made in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, there are still unresolved issues, one of which is international travel.  The AETA Board, along with CETA, tried to navigate this storm, but we were unable to proceed with an in-person convention due to the uncertainty surrounding the opening of the US-Canada border.  As a result, both AETA and CETA elected to forgo an in-person convention for 2021 in favor of another virtual meeting.  The meeting format will be similar to that in 2020 but will be hosted by CETA with the help of FASS and AETA.  The program that CETA is assembling is coming together, and we have a preliminary speakers list posted on the AETA website.

The AETA also faces the challenge of recruiting and retaining new members. The AETA Certification “brand” is something in which all certified members should take pride. The AETA-certified practitioner status is not only a source of pride, but also a designation that ensures competency. Unfortunately, many cattlemen do not appreciate or understand the significance of the AETA certification or the educational opportunities available to both certified and non-certified members through our association. We feel that for the AETA to remain relevant and grow, the AETA brand and certification have to grow.

We have had success in offering continuing education opportunities to professionals and, along with that, complimentary membership for a year. The student scholarship program has also helped with recruiting new members, but there is more that we can do.

Many of our clients are large players in the embryo transfer field, and we feel they would benefit from AETA regular membership. On more and more farms, on-farm labor is used to transfer embryos, both fresh and cryopreserved. The educational opportunities and networking opportunities offered by the AETA could elevate both professionals and their clients. Breed associations such as Holstein and American Angus could also benefit from associate membership.

The true significance of AETA certification has yet to be discovered by the mainstream of the embryo transfer world. This process needs to happen, yet it will only happen slowly and deliberately. We recently had stickers printed with the AETA Certified logo that will be distributed to certified members. These stickers can and should be placed anywhere that it would cause a client to ask about what AETA certification is. Finally, we also need to continue to increase our exposure to the veterinary and animal science communities.

One of the most recent challenges we met were the new European Union (EU) import regulations on both conventional and IVP embryos. Ashley Swenson and the entire Government Liaison Committee in cooperation with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) navigated these troubled waters like true professionals, providing clarity and taking a strong stand on behalf of US embryo transfer professionals and producers alike. While the changes in the paperwork requirements will take a little time to get used to, the transition to the new regulations has happened already. Unfortunately, it appears as though the number of sires available to be used in the production of IVF embryos eligible for EU export will decrease as a result of the new regulations.

Challenges will continue; they always do. Challenges become opportunities when met head on. Stay safe, be well, and keep the green effluent away from your pockets.

Dr. Bill Croushore – AETA President

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