2 February 1996

Breakthrough for cattle ET

DIY embryo transfer training has been completed successfully for the first time in the UK by five dairy and beef producers, who will now be able to implant embryos on their own units with the support of local vets.

The five-day course run by new company CattleTech is MAFF approved. It trains in direct transfer techniques using the quick-thaw method for frozen embryos (see Livestock, Nov 10, 1995). Three days training in epidural techniques is also required.

Course co-ordinator Pip Stennett says the real advantage is financial. "Trainees learn skills that will stay with them forever for an investment of £1500." Cows will also benefit from reduced stress, he says.

"Now an embryo can be implanted on-farm one week after she comes bulling without the stress of moving her."

DIY and technician embryo transfer is legal, but recipient animals must be examined by a vet before implantation, claims British Veterinary Association president Bob Stevenson.

He adds that although vets do not need to be present at the time of transfer, they must check each animal is suitable for the embryo to be implanted to protect the welfare of the animal.

&#8226 Genus has 13 technicians trained in direct embryo transfer and will be offering a UK service from April. It says the cost of implants will be reduced by £15 to £60, and the synchronisation at £25 a cow will no longer be necessary.