June 2012 President’s Letter

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Published on: June 26, 2012

I hope everyone is in the middle of a busy season, but able to see light at the end of the tunnel. I seem to find myself looking at the calendar, hunting for open days in the embryo schedule, so we can catch up on odd jobs or just take a break. When I started this letter we were looking at one of the driest summers on record beginning, but I have to edit it, as we have just gotten over 2 inches of rain in the last 2 days. I don’t know if it helps, but it sure makes everyone’s attitude better. Wheat harvest is over in our area and normally doesn’t begin until about June 20th. There has been more straw baled around here than I have ever seen in anticipation of tight forage supplies again this year.

We have attempted to expand the content of the newsletter and I would like to thank Dr. Allen Rushmer for taking the lead to get this accomplished. Feedback from the article on Dr. Harley Schneider’s retirement in Costa Rica was extremely positive, so we will attempt to get such an article in each newsletter. If anyone has knowledge of a retired members life after embryo transfer or any other human interest story, please let Jeremy or Allen know.

The cooperator committee is finalizing plans to send a delegation to India on an initial fact finding trip. They will focus on making contacts that may help develop protocols for future export of U S embryos to that country. This trip is funded with money procured through our involvement with USLGE. Previous endeavors of this type have helped open markets to places like Europe, Japan, China, and most recently to Russia. The committee should have a report of the trip at the Winnipeg meeting.

Changes to the certification program have taken effect . These updates should make the program stronger and give it more credibility worldwide. We have a session planned at the annual meeting to explain details and answer any questions. The new program and forms for reporting colleague visits for credit are on the website.

The annual meeting in Winnipeg Canada is fast approaching. The program looks excellent and the social events are going to be top notch. You might want to begin looking at travel plans, and don’t forget you must have a passport. If you know any interested students remind them that AETA memberships are now free.

As the busy season continues and you are up to your ears in alligators, remember to use common sense and think safety first. I just had a client loose several teeth when a cow kicked a gate at him. He was talking instead of paying attention. How often do we see a stupid mistake turn into a serious injury in the blink of an eye? Stay healthy and hope to see everyone in Winnipeg.

2013 AETA Board of Director Nominees

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Published on: June 26, 2012

Dr. Richard S. (Sam) Castleberry is a graduate of Texas A &M University receiving his Doctors of Veterinary Medicine degree in 1975.  Immediately upon graduating from veterinary school, he went to work for Rio Vista Genetics, one of the pioneers in the embryo transfer business (back in the days when embryos were surgically collected from donors and implanted into recipient cattle.)  In 1983, he established Veterinary Reproductive Services which focused primarily on “on-the-farm” bovine embryo transplant. In 1993, after establishing a contact in New Zealand, Dr. Castleberry expanded his practice to include Boer Goat embryo transfers and collections and was instrumental in importing Boer Goat genetics into the U.S.  Dr. Castleberry has experience with importing and exporting embryos and/or performing embryo work in  6 out of the 7 continents in the world.

Dr. Castleberry was a founding member of the AETA and has previously served on the AETA board. If elected, he has the time to devote to serving the needs of the association.  He is proud of the way the association has evolved and would like to help it improve and grow for the future.


Bethany Funnell

Please click here to view Bethany Funnell’s CV

Bethany received her DVM from Purdue University in 2004, and has been employed as a Research Associate by the University of Minnesota North Central Research and Outreach Center (NCROC) since her graduation.  Bethany is currently the coordinator/practitioner for the Reproductive Biotechnology Center, which provides in vivo embryo recovery and transfer services, and ultrasound-guided OPU and IVF services, both commercially and for research purposes.  Recent research has focused on nutrition/reproduction interactions, and the direct effects on both the IVF oocyte and embryo, as well as the in vivo embryo.

In addition to ET services, Bethany also has a local clientele of beef producers to whom she provides herd health services.  The North Central Research and Outreach Center currently houses 250 beef cows, and Bethany and her husband (Mike) maintain a herd of 50 head of purebred cows.  This gives Bethany insight and intimate knowledge of the production and economic challenges of her clientele.

Bethany is also an active member of the University of Minnesota Extension Beef Team, which consists of  faculty, staff, and graduate students involved in beef research and outreach.

Bethany has also been involved in providing training sessions domestically, as well as internationally.  She traveled to Kaluga, Russia in 2009, to speak at the Agricultural Academy at Timeryazev University, and to the Bangladesh Agricultural University in Mymensingh, Bangladesh in 2011.  She also has been invited to speak at the North American Veterinary Conference in Orlando, Florida in January 2013.

Bethany is very honored to have been nominated for the Board of Directors, and would love the opportunity to represent the membership, learn from past experiences of those in the Association, and look for new opportunities for AETA in the future.


Chuck Gue

I earned a DVM from the University of Missouri, College of Veterinary Medicine in 1987 and was introduced to embryo transfer procedures during an elective clinical rotation prior to graduation.  As an associate practitioner in a mixed veterinary practice in southeast Nebraska, I provided very modest bovine embryo collection and transfer services to local seed-stock and club calf producers.  Following employment with Trans Ova Genetics from late 1990 through early 2005, I have been providing embryo transfer services as a solo practitioner from my home in southwest Montana.

As a member of the AETA for 20 years, I have certainly not done enough in the past to give back to he members that are the association.  I thank the board for the humbling nomination and I would be honored to extend my time and efforts to our association.


Brad R. Lindsey, PhD

Brad received his Bachelors and Masters Degrees from Texas A&M University in 1982 & 1984, then his PhD from the University of Nebraska in 1998. His former employers include Granada Biosciences, Trans Ova Genetics, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the Tropical Beef Centre (Rockhampton, Queensland, Australia), Stroud Veterinary Embryo Services, AB Technology, Inc. (now Bioniche Animal Health), Minitube of America, Genetic Resources International (now Sexing Technologies) and OvaGenix.  Dr. Lindsey was an adjunct professor at the University of Wisconsin and at Washington State University and a member of the WSU/Idaho Center of Reproductive Biology.

In 2005, Brad started Rex Consulting (now Ovitra Biotechnology, Inc.) to provide ET services and technical support to cattle producers, biotech companies, and ET firms. A long-standing member of both the AETA and IETS, he has served on several committees (IETS: CANDES & Technology; AETA: Newsletter & currently, Certification) and was the Local Organizing Committee Chairman for the 2004 IETS meeting in Portland. Dr. Lindsey has dedicated his entire professional career to studying and implementing advanced embryo & reproductive technologies and continues to do so through Ovitra. With 30 years involvement in all facets of the ET industry (including academic teaching & research, private research & product development, producer- and practitioner-oriented consulting, services & training), Brad would like to use this experience by serving on the AETA BOD for the benefit and representation of all of its members.

AETA Vision Statement: A Review

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Published on: June 26, 2012

In January 2008 the AETA Board of Directors met for a two-day workshop under the direction of a professional vision counselor.  She led the BOD members through a series of written exercises and discussions which critically examined the AETA.  The members looked at the history of the organization and they looked at the social, economic and regulatory environment in which the organization functions.  Then, with the past history and the present concerns in hand, she encouraged the Board to describe the AETA of the future, to describe what the organization would look like in five years.

The published result of this workshop is the AETA Vision Statement.  This statement is a succinct description of what the AETA is and where the organization is going.  The statement was distributed to the members in 2008 and is currently available on the AETA website.

Thinking or dreaming of a future reality is one thing; transforming that vision into a reality is quite another process.  The two days of discussions produced three priority areas for future development:  management or government, certification, and education.  The AETA committees and Board have been diligently working these priorities to move the AETA towards that envisioned future.  Some of the steps towards the future are presented here.

In terms of management, the top issue was financial stewardship.  The Board and the Audit Committee are extremely conscious of the financial disaster that challenged our organization in the past and they are committed to ensuring that it will never occur again.  This had been addressed by the Board before the vision workshop; its importance was restated and reaffirmed.  Next the Board continued and completed a review of the AETA Bylaws which will give a better operating platform for the future.  FASS worked with the Board to produce a detailed operations manual which outlines the yearly operations of the AETA and the interactions with FASS.  The Board then developed and approved a Code of Ethics for the Association.  And standard operating protocols are being developed for all the AETA committees.

The Certification Committee has done a major overhaul of its guidelines.  The CAO of the Certification Program is now the Chair of the Certification Committee.  And individuals are now certified, in contrast to the certification of companies in the past.  The new guidelines also set up protocols for inspection and professional review.  In addition there is a new program for colleague visits for CE credits; a suggested format for the visit and a form for reporting the visit are available on the website (provide link).

Education is a very high priority for the Board.  After the vision workshop two new educational committees were set up:  a standing convention/program committee and an education committee.  The new format of the convention committee was designed to provide for greater continuity year to year in the management and content of the annual meeting.  And they have done a great job at that.

The new education committee was set up to develop new educational opportunities, specifically new, web-based opportunities.  The committee worked with FASS to redesign the website.  The new design provides for easy and organized access to the information that had already been accumulated and it provides an organizational framework as the AETA continues to grow.  The committee worked with CETA to gain access to Tech Talk, an interactive forum for ET discussions.  All the past Proceedings of AETA meetings as well as all the old Newsletters are archived and may be searched from the website.   This and all future Newsletters will be published online.   Membership and Certification renewal as well as CE records are all online.  And the first AETA webinar, ET 201 Advanced Ultrasound Technology was produced and is available on the website.

And there are many other advances that have come out of the vision workshop:  free student membership, online listing of available externships, expanded student scholarship program, etc.  The bottom line is that your organization has experienced a period of noteworthy, planned growth.  This growth has required commitment and diligence by the AETA committees and Board and we should all be thankful for the voluntary contributions of many individuals.

Lastly, we would all be wise to remember that vision projects are not silver bullets or cure-alls; it would perhaps be better to think of vision work as a process.  As each of these projects is completed the door is opened for a new vision. The vision statement needs to be strong enough to direct the organization over a number of years.  The Board monitors the progress made towards the vision and they determine when it is necessary to reexamine the vision.

Catching Up: Dr. Clifton Murphy, DVM

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Published on: June 26, 2012

This edition features Dr. Clifton Murphy, an Honorary Life Member of the AETA.  He writes to us from the University of Missouri where he is active in support of their stem cell research program.  He strongly suggests that we should all get on our computers and start reading about stem cells; “just type in ‘adipose stem cells’,” he said.  He also provided a link, stemcelldigest.net.


And here is what he had to say about his life today:

Yes, as strange as it may seem-I have been asked to write this article. I shall give only the Abstract

Not the complete thesis. Sixty years ago, I received my BSc and DVM.  Only five DVM Mo’52 are

Still living,  Fifty-two years ago, under the direction of Dr. O. R. Adams, Colo. State,

I received an advance degree in Surgery . This was a good experience.  He often repeated these

Words of advice, ”know the difference between Feat and Technique’.

I will be 86 years old on July 9th.  I have a twin brother and I have noticed that he looks old.

We have been through the great depression and the Great War-after those experiences

Everything was easy.  I have a wonderful family—blood is thicker than water.

My professional life has been a great pleasure. ‘If you love your work, you will never work a

Day in your life’. The most important reason, is that is that I have enjoyed and been helped

By so many friends. I often feel that I have taken more than I have given along life’s road.


I retired from the practice of embryo transfer at the young age of 65.  I started a new career

With Dr. Randy Prather’s molecular laboratory , University of Missouri.  My contribution

Is porcine surgery. We perform about 400/year, which includes embryo recoveries, transfers

And c-sections.  I am humbled and amazed by how little that I know about the embryo.

All that I really know is UFO(unfertilized oocyte)embryo classifications and grades.  We have

Pigs whose organs might be transferred to humans. With the cloning procedures almost any

Human condition can be mimicked, making the pig the perfect lab-animal.

Everything-is beyond my pay-grade.

.STEM CELLS –this is my new interest.  We have started some look-see work with adipose stem

Cells to enhanced reproduction.  Please take your computer and start reading.  I am as certain

About the future use of stem cells –as I was about Embryo Transfer- that’s when I sold my perfect

Drive in clinic.  I then put on that long plastic glove.  I hope that father time, will let me work

a little longer-this is and will be exciting.

I have included a picture of my refuge-corner. On the wall above my desk, I often place a picture

Or other objects to help me think about pleasant things or take minute vacations. Try it.

I now have a picture of our first IVF calf with the surrogate mother.  Born many years ago ,

On Christmas eve, so we named him Jesus.  No doubt we did have help from above.

There is also an ear tag-345- from the sow with our first pregnancy with the addition of adipose

Stem cells that were transferred along with the embryos.

The IETS and AETA members have helped me for many years.  I enjoy the newsletters.

The AETA awarded me the Honorary Life Membership- is appreciated –THANKS

I will not be able to attend the meetings this year -lets’ have one more in Ft Collins.

There are so many things waiting to be discovered and utilized to improve our profession.

I am honored that Murphy Scholarship Fund in Animal Reproduction was established in

2008 to aid a student doing research in the quest to improve animal reproduction.

I  have been asked many times, ’when are you going to stop working ?  I have not worked a day

In my life, I attend a science meeting every day, AND Mrs. M tells me ‘that you can’t stay

Home all day’.  So, keep working those stem cells do a little surgery-

My life is being controlled by FATHER TIME and he always wins ,

I don’t like it—-and you won’t either.

‘”Thanks for being my FRIEND”-none named-none forgotten.  it has been a wonderful trip

Sorry that it has to end so soon.  I often pause and think—what if-I had not sold my perfect

Drive-in small animal clinic in Lawton, Oklahoma?  Life is full of ‘what ifs’?




And, finally, he did include a brief “what if” note:  Smile-take time to smell the roses-your life and family are more important than ET cows.  Doc Murph

Ovarian Size Matters: AMH Essay Now Available

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Published on: June 26, 2012

Dr. J.J. Ireland presented a highly informative summary of his research into ovarian function at last year’s AETA Joint Convention.  He and his coworkers have determined that the variation in the number of follicles and oocytes  found on the ovaries can have a profound impact on ovarian function.  Specifically they found that animals with a lower antral follicle count had a lower number of morphologically healthy follicles and oocytes.  These animals had much smaller ovaries, and a decreased response to superovulation with decreased numbers of transferable embryos recovered.  They also found that a single measurement of Anti-Mullerian Hormone (AMH) is a reliable method to determine the relative antral follicle count and thus the quantity of follicles and oocytes in the ovaries.

Minitube of America, a long time sponsor of the AETA conventions, has recently announced that it is now offering  AMH assay as a service (http://support.minitube.com/PDFS/AMH_testing.pdf )  .  Important details concerning sample submission and fees are available from Minitube (800-646-4882).

This is a new and valuable tool to manage superovulations.  There will be more information presented at the 2012 Joint Convention.  Please bring your own data to contribute to the discussion.


Sidebar:  What is Anti-Mullerian Hormone?

AMH is a glycoprotein hormone and it is a member of the transforming growth factor-beta group.  This hormone inhibits the development of the Mullerian (paramesonephric) ducts in the male embryo.  In adult females the hormone is expressed by the granulosa cells.  It is thought to control the formation of primary follicles and thus the initiation of folliculogenesis.

Superovulation of Bos taurus beef cattle with two injections of Folltropin

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Published on: June 26, 2012

Superovulation of Bos taurus beef cattle with two injections of Folltropin

John F. Hasler

Bioniche Animal Health, Inc.



Due to the rapid absorption and short half-life of FSH, superovulation of cattle has traditionally been done with 7 or 8 bi-daily injections of FSH over a four day period. Restraining beef cattle for multiple injections involves time and expense. In addition, depending on breed and handling facilities, there are various degrees of stress to the cattle and increased risk of injury to both cattle and humans.

Trials conducted during the recent past involving Angus and Simmental cattle in Argentina demonstrated that when Folltropin was diluted in the glycosaminoglycan  hyaluronan, two injections of Folltropin 48 h apart resulted in superovulation and embryo production comparable to the traditional 8 injection protocol (Tribulo, et al., 2011, 2012). The diluent containing hyaluronan is now characterized as a slow release diluent (SRF). These studies were extended to field trials in the United States in the summers of 2010 and 2011.

The trials involved superovulation of Bos taurus beef cattle in 6 commercial embryo transfer (ET) programs either on farm or housed in embryo transfer facilities. Half of the donors (controls) were superovulated with 8 injections of Folltropin-V (Bioniche Animal Health, Inc.), while the other half were injected twice with Folltropin-V reconstituted in a slow release formulation (SRF) diluent containing 0.5% hyaluronan (Map 5, Bioniche). The study was divided into two phases: 1) In 2010, cows were each superovulated once by 6 ET practitioners in either a control (n=63) or treatment group (n=57); 2)  In 2011, cows (n=46) were each superovulated twice in a cross-over design by three ET practitioners.

Animals were synchronized prior to the start of FSH injections by one of 4 protocols: 1) FSH was started between days 8 and 13 of the cycle; 2) Use of a CIDR and GnRH with FSH started two days later; 3) Use of a CIDR and estradiol 17B with FSH started 4 days later; or 4) Insertion of a CIDR with FSH started 4 days later. Control females received 8 injections of descending doses of FSH totaling 260 to 400 mg. On the day that FSH injections were initiated (Day 0) for all four synchronization protocols, controls received the first of 8 twice-daily FSH descending doses of FSH, while donors in the treatment group received a dose of FSH in SRF diluent totaling 67% of the total amount of FSH given to control donors. Treatment donors received the remaining 33% of SRF FSH 48 h later, on day 2. Both treatment and control donors received two injections of PG on day 2 or 3 and CIDRs were pulled on day 3. All animals were inseminated with one or two straws of semen at 12 and 24 hours following onset of standing estrus. Donors were flushed 7 days after onset of estrus and all ova/embryos counted and graded for stage and quality.

There was no effect of year on any category of ova/embryos recovered nor was there any treatment by year interaction. The least squares means of ova/embryos for both years combined are presented in Table 1.

Table 1. Least squares means of ova/embryos recovered from control versus treated donors in years 1 and 2 combined.













Treatment (SRF)







There were no significant differences (ANOVA) in the number of ova, transferable embryos, unfertilized ova or degenerate embryos recovered from the control versus the SRF groups. The trials conducted in the United States demonstrated that Bos taurus beef cattle can be successfully superovulated with only two injections of FSH reconstituted in an SRF diluent and involving a variety of synchronization protocols. The SRF diluent is available from Bionich Animal Health, Inc.


Tribulo, Andres, et al. 2011. Superstimulation of ovarian follicular development in beef cattle with a single intramuscular injection of Folltropin-V. Anim. Reprod. Sci. 129:7-13.

Tribulo, Andres, et al. 2012. Superovulation of beef cattle with a split-single intramuscular administration of Folltropin-V in two concentrations of hyaluronan. Theriogenology 77:1679-1685.

Hasler, John F. and Hockley, Duncan 2012. Efficacy of hyaluronan as a diluent for a two injection FSH superovulation protocol in Bos taurus beef cows. ICAR, In Press.

Practice Tip: The Shedding Blade

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Published on: June 26, 2012

“Practice Tip” is a new segment where practitioners can share a helpful tip, tool, shortcut, or process that they feel helps increase efficiency or decreases cost in their ET business.  In order to keep the Practice Tip segment alive and continual, we will implement a “tagging” system where the practitioner offering each tip will “tag” the next practitioner to provide the following newsletter’s tip.


This newsletter’s tip:      The Shedding Blade by Jon Schmidt


The shedding blade is a tool used by many of us at Trans Ova to clean the vulva and peri-vulvar area of manure and debris and prepare this area for flushing or transfer.  It has two edges, one side with short, rounded “teeth” that can be used for removing stubborn, chunky debris and another side that is smooth for making the final prep.  Using the flat edge as a “squeegee” typically does a good enough job of preparing the vulva that a paper towel is not usually necessary unless there is manure or debris up and inside the vulvar lips.  We have found the shedding blade to be much faster and effective at preparing the vulvar lips for entry with a catheter or transfer gun and it significantly decreases the amount of paper towels used, thus making it a “greener” alternative.  In addition to the shedding blade we also carry a hook (“Monster Hook”) so we can hang the shedding blade it in a convenient place on the chute wherever we are working.  You can also use this hook on your belt to hang the blade if you are transferring along headlocks in a dairy.  These hooks can be found at most large chain home improvement stores and are commonly used to hang drills, etc on a workman’s tool belt.  An alternative to the hook would be to find a loose piece of wire on a gate somewhere at the ranch and bend it around a chute pipe to create your own hook.  One bit of caution…these are easy to forget when packing up at the end of the day and several have been left on chutes at various farms/ranches along the way, so it’s always best to carry two just in case.


Cost                       $7.99

Where to find         QC Supply

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