Friday, 24 December 2010
Just Another Day at the Office...
Today we're readying ourselves for Christmas.
Yesterday saw our last major work event before we kick back.
We flushed four heifers and implanted eighteen embryos. A good day, despite the rain, which thankfully was not as heavy as predicted.
Needled to induce superovulation, our donor females are the cream of the crop, those heifers whose genetics we wish to further expand within our herd. By synchronising recipient females to line up with our donor females, we can remove the multiple embryos from our donors, implant them into recipients who act as surrogate mothers, bearing and raising the calf.
By flushing our 'superior' females, we can produce in one season as many calves as that female may produce naturally in her lifetime.
So yesterday, Day 19 of the program, donor females were administered an epidural to prevent them straining, a catheter is inserted, first into one uterine horn, then the other, a flushing solution 'flushed' in and out repeatedly, bringing out with it the embryos, which collect in a filter. Transferred to a petrie search dish, under the microscope we scan for the little blighters, pipetting them into a holding solution to await transfer into their surrogate mama.
The recipient females are palpated, scanned internally to determine from which ovary an egg was released. The ovary from which an egg has erupted, will form a 'yellow body', the corpus luteum, which can be manually detected. This allows us to know which horn of their uterus to deposit the transferred embryo, tricking the recipient female into thinking she has indeed been impregnated, and her body then treats the embryo as her own.
Some days it would seem far simpler to put the cows out with a bull, but when the babies arrive and they exceed all expectations, it makes the early mornings needling, the long nights checking donors all worthwhile.
But for today, cows are back to their paddocks, hams have been smoked, animals fed, children are absolutely beside themselves with excitement and anticipation and we're heading to town for some Christmas-family-time.
To our family further afield, sending love and warm wishes. To everybody who has shared some of our lives this year via this blog, sending you warm Christmas wishes.