Frequently Asked Questions on Ovum Pick-up (OPU) and In-Vitro Fertilization (IVF)

Which animals are eligible for OPU?

All donor cows are suitable for Ovum Pick Up starting from 8-9 months old heifers and including both lactating and dry cows. In addition, pregnant cows until the third month of pregnancy may be also oocyte donors without any risk to the pregnancy. Without FSH, donor animals run through the chute once and are back in their pastures or pens with minimal disruption and stress.

Can OPU take place on my farm?

Our OPU technicians can come to your farm, or you can bring animals to the facility in Bloemfontein at a date and time that fits your schedule.

What do I need on my farm for OPU?

An operational crush.

A power source close to the crush.

Shaded crush if possible. Alternatively, we can provide a gazebo.

A clean area to set up the laboratory for oocyte washing. Alternatively, we can come with our lab van (portable lab).

If OPU takes place on my farm, where do you grow the embryos?

After OPU the oocytes are washed and grade, with all viable oocytes placed in the portable maturation incubator. We travel back to the IVF Lab in Bloemfontein for the rest of the process.

Are hormonal treatments needed?

There is no need for hormonal treatment for oocyte collection. In fact, this technique does not interfere with normal fertility and milk production.

How long after OPU is embryo production?

Day -1: is the day of OPU and oocyte maturation.

Day 0: (the next day) is fertilization of oocytes.

Day 1-7: is embryo development in a culturized medium.

Day 7-8: is embryo transfer or freezing.

What is the difference between an Embryo and Oocyte?

An oocyte is the female reproductive cell (gamete), the same as a spermicide for bulls. Where an embryo is already developing after fertilization occurred between the oocyte and semen.

Is it possible to use sexed semen?

Yes, because a successful in vitro fertilization requires far less sperm as compared to artificial insemination. Therefore, even small amounts of viable semen, as it is often the case with straws of sexed semen, are sufficient to obtain embryos.

How many times can the OPU be repeated?

The Ovum Pick Up may be repeated every second week, for several cycles, without side effects and without interfering with the fertility of the donor.

Is it possible to use the semen of more than one bull?

Normally for each oocyte donor, only one bull is used, but with highs numbers of oocytes (more than 20 oocytes), we recommend using two bulls if more pairings are required.

How soon after OPU can a donor be impregnated?

The donor’s normal oestrus should be 14-21 day after the last aspiration, but with artificial insemination, we suggest starting the hormone program one week after the last OPU.

Can IVF embryos be frozen?

Yes, the embryos produced by in the IVF lab are as freezable as those produced by embryo flushing. With the technology and technique, we use we get relatively good results.

How many embryos can be produced per donor from each Ovum Pick Up?

This depends mainly on the age of the donor: the heifers produce 2-3 embryos and the cows 4-6 embryos per oocyte collection.

What are the advantages of Ovum Pick Up compared to superovulation?

The main advantages are:

  • it is possible to produce embryos by different pairing in a very short time choosing a different bull for each oocytes collection;
  • no hormonal treatments are required,
  • there is no effect on milk production of the donor cow and no effect on the udder or on the ongoing pregnancy.

Why is the IVF embryo production rate so low?

Not all oocytes retrieved with OPU are viable. Some might get damaged in the process.

The maturity of oocytes is difficult to determine at the time of retrieval and may therefore not be susceptible for fertilization at the schedule or suggested time.

How does the payment of OPU and IVF work?

You pay a fee per Grade 1 embryo produced.

The only additional cost with farm OPU is travel expenses.

In the centre in Bloemfontein, you pay a daily rate for feeding and care of your animals.