Frequently Asked Questions
Can pregnant animals be used as donors?
Yes, pregnant animals can be used as IVF donors. OPU (Oocyte pick-up) can be performed until about 3-4 months in gestation. This varies between indivual animals and is dependant upon the ovaries being within reach of the technician.
How early after calving can an animal be used as a donor?
Donors can be used for IVF as early as 2-3 weeks after calving, as long as the calving was uneventful. If it was a difficult birth or she had a retained placenta, that time may be lengthened.
Are FSH (follicle stimulating hormone) shots required for IVF?
No exogenous hormones or shots are required for donors to undergo OPU and IVF. This is one of the biggest benefits of our system. It greatly simplifies the process and reduces the cost.
How many embryos are made from one IVF session?
Typically, dairy breeds produce around 3 or 4 grade 1 embryos per OPU and beef breeds produce around 6 per OPU.
How old does a heifer need to be to be used as a donor?
We see the best results once a heifer has reached sexually maturity and has started cycling and showing heats. Typically that is around 10 months or so, but can vary between breeds and individuals.
How frequently can OPU be done?
Ovarian tissue has an extremely fast regeneration capability, allowing us to safely collect the same donor as often as once every 7 days.
Can you perform OPU on the farm?
Yes, OPU can be done on the farm. We need adequate animal restraint (squeeze chute or headlocks) and prefer a covered area in case of inclement weather.
When do you need the semen for IVF?
We like to have the semen no later than the day of OPU (Oocyte pick-up). We can pick up the frozen straws when we do OPU, or you can have semen shipped to our lab in Twin Falls beforehand.
How far do you travel to perform embryo work on the farm?
We typically travel in a 3-4 hour radius from Twin Falls, ID. This covers eastern Oregon, northern Nevada, northern Utah, and eastern Idaho.
When will IVF embryos be ready for fresh implants?
IVF embryos will be ready to be implanted 8 days after OPU (oocyte pick-up). If OPU is performed on Monday, they will be ready to be implanted on Tuesday of the following week.
Do you have haul-in facilities?
Yes, we work with a veterinary clinic in Twin Falls if you prefer to haul cattle to us. We also have options for long term housing for beef cattle and dry dairy cows.
What does IVF cost?
We charge on a per embryo basis for IVF embryos. This includes OPU and all lab work.
How long does the OPU process take?
The time varies depending on the farm setup, but it typically takes around 12 minutes per animal.
What is the difference between an oocyte and an embryo?
An oocyte is a female egg cell that has not be fertilized. These are removed from the follicles within the ovaries during OPU (oocyte pick-up).
How many straws of semen are needed for IVF?
One straw of sexed semen typically fertilizes oocytes from 5 donors. One straw of conventional semen can fertilize oocytes from up to 20 donors.
Do you fertilize oocytes that have been collected by others?
Absolutely. We are happy to provide the lab work for veterianians and technicians who would like to perform the OPU and embryo transfer. We are willing to provide as much assistance and training as needed.
Are fresh or frozen embryos better?
If the embryos are of the same quality, we typically see a 5-10% better pregnancy rate with fresh embryos. Frozen embryos allow more flexibility and make logistics a lot simpler. Which is best for you depends on your embryo program and most embryo programs use a combination of the two.
What is OPU?
OPU, or oocyte pick-up, is the process of collecting oocytes, or egg cells, from donor animals. It is done by transvaginal ultrasound guided aspiration of the ovaries. It is the first process in producing IVF embryos.
How are embryos graded?
Embryos are graded on a numerical scale from 1 to 3. Grade 1's are the best quality embryos and are classified by microscopic examination. We typically only use grade 1 embryos because they yield the highest pregnancy rates and lowest abortion rates.
When should you implant an embryo into the recipient?
We see the best results when the embryo is implanted 7 or 8 days after the recipient has been in heat.
Can I synchronize a large group of recipients for fixed time embryo transfer?
Yes, there are a variety of synchronization protocols depending on your goals. The most important factor in getting good pregnancy rates is proper heat detection. This is the most practical method is determining when a recipient has ovulated.
What is the typical pregnancy rate when implanting embryos?
With IVF embryos, average pregnancy rates are around 50%.
Are any recipients not used on the day of implantation?
Typically, 5-10% of recipients will be skipped. All recipeints are checked for an adequate CL prior to implantation.