Embryo transfer in cattle has been around for a long time.

Pedigree beef and dairy farmers have been using it in an attempt to increase the number of progeny from some of their best stock.

Two weeks ago in Elphin Mart, a selection of embryos sold at auction for around €300 each. I’m told top of the pops genetics in beef breeds are available for €500 if you want to invest, implant and pray that you’ll get a calf.

New service

Vytelle has just launched a new service to UK and Northern Ireland farmers from its laboratory in Dumfries, Scotland. Vytelle is part of the Wheatsheaf Group which owns Grosvenor Farms in the UK that some Irish farmers have visited where Cogent is located.

The company claims to have produced over 125,000 grade 1 embryos to customers from 30 breeds of dairy and beef cattle. The Vytelle team is headed up by John Cochrane, with lead vet Diether Prins, and Carley Jervis the UK lab leader.

Fast genetic progress

Why IVF? Essentially it’s all about making very fast genetic progress. You pick your egg donors from the very best animals you have.

At a recent meeting, Vytelle claimed its IVF is different as it doesn't use follicle-stimulating hormone, making its procedure more cost-effective, more natural and requiring no donor injections.

The company's mobile laboratory will visit the farm to collect oocytes from donor cows and then take the collections back to the laboratory for fertilisation, culture and freezing.

The price is £200 per viable grade 1 embryo, with semen provided by the client.

Will it work in Ireland in seasonal calving? It may well. A new research trial by Teagasc on this procedure was supposed to start in 2020, but didn’t. It might get off the ground in 2021. One for the new year. Watch this space.

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