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.


  1. Fiona,

    Thank you .... I enjoy reading your words and looking at the photos.

    Wishing you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

    Judy B

  2. Wow, sounds complicated! Glad we just grow crops!!!

    Merry Christmas to you all up North!

    I've enjoyed your blog very much after only recently finding it!

    Donna :)

  3. A red bellied black jumped on the end of my shovel outside the back door and bashed itself to death last night while old Di was having a fag. My broken weist is all swollen up again now - dam!
    Have a little pudding for me.

  4. Oh, my! Fiona, your posts are so illuminating. I am learning *heaps*. Have a fab Chrissy with your dear ones. I'm so delighted to have found you in the vast expanses of the Blogosphere. J x

  5. That's quite a day you all had. Does Ced do your transfer work or do you do it? It's good to know all those little babies are snug and where they should be. As you say, it will all be worth it in nine months time when you see the perfect little calf on the ground.

    I hope your Christmas is a happy one. Bummer about your brother not making it.

    I've enjoyed "getting to know you" too and I look forward to next year to see what happens at Rock Wallaby and here at A.

    Take Care of yourself. Mare.

  6. This is what I really love about the blogosphere Fiona - reading about a slice of life that's completely different to mine. I'm amazed at how complicated it all sounds. I hope you had a lovely Christmas, and that that rain hasn't done any damage to your precious heifers or your farm.

  7. Wow! I can't believe how much you do in a day!!

    I don't think we have this type of cow in the US. I've only seen them in Costa Rica(?). We called them 'bunny cows' when we were there, because of their long ears. So cute!

    Seeing your header, how my kids would love to be on a horse every day. You are living the dream!
    XO L



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