Good cattle embryos will only get you so far in your quest for pregnancy success which is why preparing the donors and recipients are important in maximising your breeding opportunities.
Preparation of your cattle should begin 6-8 weeks before collecting any oocytes or embryos, and for the transfer of embryos. Preparations include any relevant vaccinations, internal (worms and fluke etc.) and external (ticks, flies, lice etc.) parasite treatments, and injectable trace minerals. The necessary vaccinations will vary depending on your location.
In Australia cows and heifers should be vaccinated against clostridial diseases as well as Leptospirosis, Vibriosis, and Pestivirus to prevent early and late-term pregnancy losses. Parasite treatment while very necessary, can be damaging to oocytes and embryos. Treating cows and heifers 6-8 weeks prior to OPU or embryo flushing will enable time for several follicular waves to have occurred, reduce chemicals which may be present within the system, and thus lead to more viable oocytes and embryos.
A 6-8 week preparation time is ideal for providing an injectable dose of minerals: especially Zinc, Manganese, Copper and Selenium. These minerals are all important for cellular functions throughout the body and early embryo development. In addition Zinc, Manganese, Copper and Selenium are used in the production of antioxidants that protect cells from oxidative damage. Injectable mineral treatments enable faster, more efficient absorption than oral options and are ideal during periods of high energy demands such as pre-joining and calving. Lick blocks are still a good year-round option for rumen health.
Ideally cattle should be gaining in body condition rather than losing body condition. Heifers should meet critical mating weights (~55-65% of mature weight, usually 12-14 months of age) prior to undergoing estrous synchronisation. Once the correct preparation of donors and recipients are in place, it is now ideal to begin oocyte/embryo collection procedures.
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