For over two decades researchers have been fine tuning in vitro (test-tube) fertilization (IVF) procedures for cattle. The IVF technology has only been commercially available at embryo transplant stations for cattle producers since the early 1990s because IVF is a complex multi-step process that requires a well-equipped laboratory and a skilled technician. From good-quality oocytes harvested from cattle ovaries, one would expect a 90% in vitro maturation rate and >80% cleavage rates.
The resulting IVF-derived embryos are held at cow body temperature in an incubator for 7 or 8 days, with the expectation of 35 50% reaching the morula and blastocyst stages of development. Embryos are then nonsurgically transferred to females at the appropriate stage of their estrous cycle. The pregnancy rate obtained with good-quality IVF-derived embryos is expected to range from 50 65%. Although viable healthy calves have been produced from frozen-thawed IVF-derived embryos, the pregnancy rate is generally lower than with unfrozen embryos.
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