Embryo transfer can be a way of multiplying the offspring from your elite females. The donor ewe is superovulated using hormones so that she produces more eggs than usual at a synchronised mating. The complex timed programme usually takes 21 days with the donor ewe being AI’d on day 15 and the 6 day old embryos being flushed from her on day 21.
Viable embryos are then transferred to suitable recipient ewes which have also been programmed. The flushing and transfer process is carried out under general anaesthetic. The viable embryos can also be frozen for future use.
There is potentially a lot to gain from using embryo transfer, but there are also risks associated with the procedure. The gains arise from the possibility of rapidly increasing the number of offspring from an elite female in your flock. The risks lie principally in disappointing results either from low numbers of viable embryos being collected from the donor, or from failure of embryos to become established in the recipients. If you are considering using this procedure please speak to one of the team well in advance.
Other points to bear in mind with embryo transfer are: