Embryo Transfers

The past few months for us has seemed like a constant steam of sorting cows, running them through the chute and checking heats, oh and a lot of long trotting in the chilly weather to gather. While in reality what we have been doing is working on getting cows set up to raise embryos from other cows.

Because this is something we have been spending a lot of time on lately, getting cows set up to calve in the fall and although it doesn’t make up all of our operation it is a part of it. I thought today I would talk to you a little bit about what an embryo transfer is and why we utilize it in the cattle industry.

Embryo Transfer is when we take an embryo (baby cow that’s still just a few cells) from a donor cow and place it in a recipient cow. That recipient cow will then take care of the calf the rest of the gestation period, calve it out and then take care of the calf until it’s time to wean.

The reason why we use embryo transfers is to maximize the best genetics. While we are proud of our receipt cows they might not have the best breeding and might not yield the same performance that can be seen from the cross that they will be raising. This also allows a cross to produce more than one calf a year. Cows have a little over nine months of gestation length, so one cow can only produce one calf per year and this helps to make that number larger. A donor cow might also not be able to raise their own calf, they could be unsound or they could even be deceased and the receipts could be raising embryos that were frozen.

Embryo transfers are used in many species from horses, cattle to even people and I’m sure many other animals.

Farmers and Ranchers are tasked with becoming more efficient each year. Feeding a growing population with less and less resources makes us use science to help us do this. Improving cattle genetics with better bulls and cows comes a little faster with the use of AI (Artificial Insemination) and Embryo transfers.

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