Ovum Pick up (In Vitro Embryo Production)
Ovum Pick Up is a much newer technique and is only available through a handful of practices in the country of which Parklands is the only one in Ireland.
In this case, only the eggs are removed from the donor animal and the fertilisation takes place in a laboratory rather than inside the cow. The cow has to come to us for the OPU session in our Dungannon Surgery, as everything has to be heat controlled.
Under epidural, an ultrasound probe is placed into the vagina along with a needle and guide, so that eggs can be taken from ovarian follicles and collected into a test tube.
What does the IVF process involve?
It is the process of creating embryos from unfertilised egg cells called oocytes. The oocytes are gently sucked (aspirated) from the ovarian follicles by means of a fine needle, guided by an ultrasound scanner probe placed in the vagina.
This is called Ovum Pickup (OPU)
The recovered oocytes are then matured and fertilised in the laboratory. Further maturation and culture takes place in an incubator for approx. 7 days resulting in viable embryos which can be transferred into recipient cows or frozen and transferred at a later date.
It is superior to conventional embryo flushing for the following reasons:-
- A larger number of offspring can be generated in a shorter time frame than using conventional flushing
- Non-surgical – minimising clinical risks
- Eggs can be collected from juvenile heifers
- Eggs can be collected from pregnant donors during the first trimester
- Can be used on animals with a range of reproductive disorders, which might not otherwise be able to continue breeding
- Less semen is used per fertilisation (i.e. split straws)
- Several bulls can be used per flush, giving greater scope for genetic improvement
- Latest science minimises the high birth weights previously described