Efficacy of embryo transfer in lactating dairy cows during summer using fresh or vitrified embryos produced in vitro with sex-sorted semen
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The objective was to determine whether transfer of fresh or vitrified embryos produced in vitro with sex-sorted semen improves pregnancy and calving rates during summer in lactating dairy cows compared with artificial insemination (AI). Lactating dairy cows (n=722) were enrolled during summer months at 2 commercial dairies in Central Texas and randomly assigned to 1 of 3 treatments: AI with conventional semen (n=227), embryo transfer-vitrified (ET-V; n=279) or embryo transfer-fresh (ET-F; n=216). Embryos were produced in vitro using sex-sorted semen and with Block-Bonilla-Hansen-7 culture medium. For vitrification, grade 1 expanded blastocysts were harvested on d 7 after fertilization and vitrified using the open-pulled straw method. Fresh embryos were grade 1 blastocysts and expanded blastocysts harvested on d 7 after fertilization. Cows were submitted to the Ovsynch56 protocol: d -10 GnRH, d -3 PGF(2α), d -1 GnRH and d 0 timed AI; or Select Synch protocol: d -9 GnRH, d -2 PGF(2α), and AI following detected estrus (day of AI=d 0). On d 7, all cows were examined for presence of a corpus luteum (CL). A vitrified or fresh embryo was transferred to cows with CL in ET-V and ET-F groups. Cows were considered synchronized if progesterone was <1ng/mL on d 0 and a CL was present on d 7. At d 40±7 of gestation, the percentage of cows pregnant was greater for the ET-F compared with the ET-V and AI groups among all cows (42.1 vs. 29.3 and 18.3%, respectively) and synchronized cows (45.5 vs. 31.6 and 24.8%, respectively). Also, the percentage of cows pregnant was greater for the ET-V than the AI group among all cows and tended to be greater among synchronized cows. At d 97±7 of gestation, the percentage of cows pregnant among all cows was greater for ET-F and ET-V groups than for the AI group (36.4 and 25.7 vs. 17.0%, respectively) and the percentage for the ET-F group was greater than for the ET-V group. Among synchronized cows, the percentage of cows pregnant was significantly increased for the ET-F group than for ET-V and AI groups (39.4 vs. 27.8 and 23.1%, respectively) and no difference was found between ET-V and AI groups. No effect of treatment on embryo loss was observed. The percentage of cows with live births was significantly increased for the ET-F than for ET-V and AI groups among all cows (27.5 vs. 17.1 and 14.6%, respectively) and synchronized cows (29.9 vs. 18.5 and 20.0%, respectively). The percentage of cows giving birth to a live heifer was significantly increased for the ET-F and ET-V groups compared with the AI group among all cows (79.1 and 72.5 vs. 50.0%, respectively) and synchronized cows (79.1 and 72.5 vs. 50.0%, respectively). No difference existed between ET-F and ET-V groups for percent live heifer births but both were greater than for the AI group. The transfer of fresh embryos produced in vitro using sex-sorted semen to lactating dairy cows during summer can effectively increase the percentage of cows that establish pregnancy and also the percentage of cows that give birth to a live heifer compared with percentages from AI with conventional semen.
author list (cited authors)
Stewart, B. M., Block, J., Morelli, P., Navarette, A. E., Amstalden, M., Bonilla, L., Hansen, P. J., & Bilby, T. R.