How can we improve embryo production and pregnancy outcomes of Holstein embryos produced in vitro? (12 years of practical results at a California dairy farm)

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Published on: November 2, 2020

Daniela Garcia Borges Demetrio, 1 ,* Eduardo Benedetti, 2 Clarice Garcia Borges Demetrio, 3 Julio Fonseca, 1 Mayara Oliveira, 1 Alvaro Magalhaes, 1 and Ricarda Maria dos Santos 4

1RuAnn Genetics, Riverdale, CA, United States
2Arizona Dairy Co, Mesa, AZ, United States
3Escola Superior de Agricultura “Luiz de Queiroz”, Universidade do Estado de São Paulo, Piracicaba, SP, Brasil
4Faculdade de Medicina Veterinária, Universidade Federal de Uberlândia, Uberlândia, MG, Brasil


Genomic evaluations have revolutionized dairy cattle breeding, and the demand for embryos produced from very young heifers with high genetic merit has increased over time. The combination of low oocyte recovery, young age of donors, and milk production status can make the in vitro embryo production (IVP) of Holstein cattle incredibly challenging. Several factors need to be coordinated to obtain a live calf from an IVP embryo, but the quality of the oocyte at the start of the process is one of the key factors. Aspects related to oocyte quality, laboratory quality control, embryo quality and recipient selection are addressed here, based on the measures that the RuAnn Genetics Laboratory (Riverdale, California, USA) adopted in the last 12 years, with the goal of improving production of live, healthy calves from Holstein embryos. Follicular wave synchronization and stimulation with follicular stimulating hormone (FSH) is necessary to improve oocyte quality and consequently embryo production. Laboratory quality control and the use of high-quality supplies are essential to reduce variability in production and facilitate identification of other factors that might interfere with embryo production. High pregnancy rates can be achieved with good quality embryos selected at optimal time and stage of development, transferred by an experienced embryo transfer (ET) technician, to well managed recipients 7 or 8 days after estrus. Attention to detail at every step of the process is crucial to success.
Keywords: embryo, Holstein, in vitro production, pregnancy, recipient.

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