Embryo transfer (ET) is a method used to maximise a female’s reproductive potential. Under normal circumstances, a female alpaca is capable of only having one cria annually. Using embryo transfer technology, you can allow her to breed multiple times in a single year and have her embryos harvested for transfer into less valuable females that have poorer genetics that you wouldn’t necessarily think were worth breeding on their own merit. This increases the number of potential offspring that a single female is able to produce in her reproductive life. The embryos from your best females are carried by the “recipient” females and subsequently raised by those females, although their genetics is of much higher value.
How does Embryo Transfer work?
Donor females are bred naturally by the male and the embryo that forms following successful fertilisation of the egg by the sperm is harvested from the uterus after one week and transferred into a recipient female. This embryo collection takes place under sedation and is done entirely non-surgically. The recipient female is also sedated for non-surgical transfer of the embryo directly into her uterus. Donor females can be remated and flushed again in subsequent weeks to allow further collection and transfer of embryos.
Why should I choose Camelid Veterinary Services to do my Embryo Transfer Programme?
I have 17 years’ experience in reproductive techniques in South American Camelids. Furthermore, I have been trained in Embryo Transfer techniques by Jane Vaughan of Cria Genesis from Australia. Jane is a well-known veterinarian internationally and her work in Camelid Reproduction and Embryo Transfer is well known internationally. She runs an extremely successful commercial embryo transfer service in Australia and has also travelled internationally for embryo transfer and also to train selected individuals in the methods that she has developed specifically for alpacas.
Do I need to bring my females to you for Embryo Transfer?
No. The success of ET programmes is dependent upon a minimal stress environment. Therefore, in order to minimise the stress caused by transportation and increase the chances of success, ET is best performed on your own farm.
Is any preparation required?
Yes. It is important that any ET programme is planned and booked well in advance in order to maximise your chances of success. Pregnancy rates will be affected by the adequacy of your preparation. Donor and recipient females and the males need to be selected well in advance and sorted into groups so that they can establish their social hierarchy – the stress of herd changes should be kept well away from the time of flushing. Stressful events (eg shearing) should not be performed close to the time of flushing as they can affect an individual in many ways, sometimes for weeks. Individuals selected for inclusion in ET programmes need to be in optimal body condition: ensure that they have faecal egg counts monitored and treat for parasites appropriately, and ensure vaccinations are up to date. Above all, all animals involved in ET programmes need to be handled with minimum stress, so your handling facilities should allow this. Selenium concentrations have been shown to have a significant impact on the success of an ET programme, so checking these can be really valuable and may indicate the need for supplementation. If you are interested in performing ET, please contact us well ahead of the breeding season so that we can provide you with our preparation information and this will help you to have the best chance of success with your programme.
How much does it cost?
Please contact Claire for information on pricing and to discuss your needs.