The foundation of any livestock development programme rests with the presence of a scientifically sound and systematic genetic improvement programme aimed at improving the genetic composition and productivity. Selection of genetically superior animals, multiplication and harvesting of superior breeding material and dissemination to millions of livestock owners who depend on livestock solely or partially for their income and livelihood are the ultimate goals of the programme.
India is bestowed with valuable livestock wealth especially good milch cattle and buffalo breeds such as Sahiwal, Gir, Red Sindhi, Murrah, Mehsana and Jaffarabadi respectively.
Embryo transfer technology provides an opportunity to disseminate the genetics of proven elite females and their maximisation than could have been achieved by natural way.
Ovum Pick Up (OPU), In Vitro Embryo Production (IVEP) and Embryo Transfer (ET) programmes have resulted in increased selection intensity, reduced generation intervals and increased genetic gains in livestock. OPU, IVF and ET technologies are now used in countries like Brazil, USA and Canada to produce highly productive animals from top producing cows and proven bulls for sustainable dairy industry. These two technologies also help in the development of herds of genetically valuable females or males. All these Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ARTs) have proven to be very useful research tools.
Under Indian conditions, Multiple Ovulation and Embryo Transfer (MOET) work was started around 1990s in sporadic institutes for production of elite dairy animals. Since last 4-5 years, Ovum Pick Up and In vitro Embryo Production (OPU-IVEP) have emerged as replacements to in vivo embryo production technique. It is envisaged that use of this technology to multiply the superior bovine germplasm can change the face of the dairy industry in India. India ranks first in milk production with a variety of cattle and buffalo breeds, which gives tremendous scope for sustainable increase in embryo production in the near future. Presently, these techniques can be used for production of elite bulls and bull mothers, creation of replacement herd, establishment of nucleus herd, breed conservation and rapid propagation of elite animals.
BAIF established its Embryo Transfer laboratory in the year 2001 and from 2018 onwards, BAIF started work in OPU-IVF by establishing an ultra-modern IVF laboratory. This technology is being used to its fullest extent at BAIF’s Bull Mother Farm and at farmers doorstep for production of animals with better genetics.
BAIF has undertaken embryo transfer technology in Sahiwal, Gir, Ongole, Dangi, HF Pure, Jersey Pure and cross bred animals as well as in buffaloes resulting in the birth of excellent male and female animals. Use of sexed sorted semen along with IVF is a useful tool for production of animals with desired sex. These animals are contributing to increased productivity and conservation of good genetics.
The success of the embryo transfer programme depends on the quality of the embryo, recipient selection, technical procedures followed for embryo production and skill of the ET experts. Hence, embryo transfer is a composite technology that requires expertise in many areas. As optimal utilization and results will reduce costs further, the technique has to be made more economical and affordable for Indian dairy farmers under field conditions.
Dr. Hemant Kadam
Sr. Thematic Program Executive
In-Charge, Bull Mother Farm & IVF- ET Activity
BAIF Central Research Station, Uruli Kanchan, Pune 412 202