Out of Season Artificial Insemination and Embryo Transfer Results in Ewes: A Field Trial

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Published on: November 2, 2020

B Price, T Mittleider, S Collins, P Gibbons, and J Gibbons

College of Veterinary Medicine, Lincoln Memorial University, Harrogate, TN

Introduction: 

Ewes are seasonally polyestrous short-day breeders with an estrous cycle of approximately 16 – 17 days.  In the northern hemisphere ewes have active estrous cycles and are naturally receptive to rams from late September to late December when there is less than 12 hours of daylength.  However, progressive sheep breeders often prefer to breed sheep earlier in the year, during periods where there is more than twelve hours of daylength, (July and August) in order to have lambs that are appropriate to target specific show markets.  In order to facilitate this out of season breeding and accelerate genetic gain, producers rely on Assisted Reproductive Techniques such as Laparoscopic Artificial Insemination (LAI), ovarian hyper-stimulation, embryo collection from valuable embryo donors, and embryo transfer (ET) into synchronized recipients (1,2,3.)  This field trial was conducted during late July through early August in southwest Virginia (latitude 36-38’12” N), during a daylight period of about 14 hours. Pregnancy rates of ewes bred by means of AI were compared to those that underwent ET.

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