• Embryo Transfer - A Breeders Perspective

    The use of embryo transfer (ET) technologies has been a relatively recent advance in breeding technology for alpacas in Australia. The reasoning behind the development of the technology was to increase the use and allow great availability of genetically superior animals both locally and internationally. With long gestation periods for alpacas (11 months), conventional breeding results in slow genetic gain. Also information gained from these breedings is less reliable as it is difficult to compare results over various years due to the variations in season etc also influencing the results. more »
  • Embryo Transfer in the South American Camelids

    In the summer of 1998 a man named Bob Godke phoned our ranch in Montana. He said he had heard we knew how to do embryo transfer in the South American camelids. Godke, it turned out, was Dr. Robert Godke, Professor of Reproductive Physiology at LSU and world famous authority on advanced reproduction techniques. He was in Montana for a fly fishing holiday and decided to track down the rumor he heard at a meeting of the International Embryo Transfer Society (of which he is a past President). Godke came to the Taylor Ranch for an afternoon of conversation which led to demonstrations and eventually to a full-blown cooperative project between LSU and the Taylors. He was quick to admit that he simply had not believed reports that an unpublished layman llama breeder, without any formal training in advanced reproduction, was doing embryo transfer in llamas with a high rate of success. Nobody else in the world had recorded more than a few successful embryo transfers in the lamas (less than 10 in total) and we were claiming more than one hundred live births. The success of our llama embryo transfer program is due to a team effort. My wife, Sally, does most of the actual palpations, ultrasound scans and embryo flushes and transfers while I assist and take notes. Bob Godke realized the importance of this and began to refer to Sally as my "secret weapon". Teamwork, at least two people working closely together to manage the animals, do the technical work and keep accurate records, is essential for successful embryo transfer in camelids. Luckily for me, Sally enjoys this work and is very good at it. more »
  • Reflections on Multiple Embryo Transfer Programmes in Alpacas

    Late in 2004 we decided to experiment with the advanced reproductive technique of embryo transfer . It was a big decision to make for our small stud as the technique has only recently evolved from an experimental research challenge in alpaca breeding to a potentially useful commercial breeding tool. As the results can vary dramatically between ET programmes and across different studs, the following discussion highlights some of the issues and challenges that we had to face as novice users of this technology. more »
  • Who's Afraid of ET?

    What are we afraid of? - Is the procedure safe for the animals? - Is doing ET ethical? - Do the costs and difficulty of the technology make it only practical for the larger, wealthier farms? - And if so, is it fair? - Does using ET decrease the variability of the gene pool and is it going to increase inbreeding? - If ET improves the fiber quality across the national herd, do alpacas become just a fiber industry? If so, where is the value in breeding the animals? - Isn’t ET going to flood the market with alpacas? The answers for many of these questions can be found by observing what has happened with other livestock industries that utilize ET, and by instituting some important guidelines. more »
  • Development of a Large Commercial Camel Embryo Transfer Program: 20 Years of Scientific Research

    Embryo transfer in camels was initiated to respond to demand from the camel industry particularly in the United Arab Emirates since 1990. This paper reviews the research performed in critical areas of reproductive physiology and reproductive function evaluation that constitute a pre-requisite for a successful embryo transfer program. A description of donor and recipient management as well as a retrospective evaluation of calf production in the embryo transfer program at Sweihan, UAE is provided. The program utilized two management systems for donors, with and without ovarian superstimulation. Non-stimulated donors are flushed every 14–15 days with a mean embryo production per year per female of 8.5 ± 3.1 (mean ± SEM). Response to gonadotropin stimulation is extremely variable. FSH doses and frequency of administration is often adjusted to a specific female. In the period of 1990–2010, 11,477 embryos were transferred to recipients. Transfers from 1990 to 2009 (n = 10,600) resulted in 2858 weaned calves, representing an overall efficiency (% weaned calves/transfer) of 27%. Pregnancy rates at 60 days post transfer varied from 19 to 44%. Pregnancy length following transfer is extremely variable. A major challenge in a large embryo transfer program is finding good quality recipients. Causes of pregnancy and neonatal losses are under study. more »