Ovum Pick-Up and In Vitro Fertilization

Ovum Pick-Up (OPU) is the process whereby oocytes (egg cells) are aspirated from the follicles on the ovaries of the donor. This process is done by needle guided ultrasound that collects the oocytes with a vacuum suction. The oocytes are washed, cleaned and graded, prior to maturation, fertilization and finally culture within the state of the art laboratory.

Absolute Genetics offers our OPU service in our embryo centre in Bloemfontein, as well as on your farm. After farm aspiration the oocytes (Female egg sells) are placed in a transportable incubator while the team travels back to the laboratory in Bloemfontein.

The OPU process is best if repeated every two weeks, as the follicular wave becomes synchronized with the collect time. With farms located far from the Lab, it is often more feasible to move the donors to the embryo centre.

Factors affecting OPU success:

  • Fertility of the donor.
  • The ability of the donor to produce follicles.
  • Total body condition of the donor.
  • Feeding principles
  • Environmental factors like weather, drought, etc.

After retrieval of the oocytes, the oocytes are matured for approximately 24 hours and then fertilized with semen from a selected sire. This is the process called In Vitro Fertilization (IVF), where fertilization occurs in the laboratory. After fertilization the zygote develop into an embryo and 7 days after fertilization, produces a blastocyst embryo. We develop embryos using a propriety culture system with no foetal calf serum, resulting in high-quality embryos to transfer fresh or preserve for later use.

Advantages to OPU and IVF:

  • No hormonal treatments or programs are required for this procedure.
  • OPU without hormones is more cost effective and easier on the animal.
  • No scheduled injection program to follow.
  • Oocytes can be collected more often than embryos can be flushed.
  • Oocytes can be collected from cows until 3 months pregnant.
  • Oocytes can be collected from heifers at a much younger age.
  • You can use sexed semen or more valuable semen more effectively.
  • IVF generates more pregnancies for a single dose of semen.
  • Enables you to transfer fresh embryos or to preserve embryos for future implantation.

The IVF process has an average production rate of 30%, thus meaning that 30% of all oocytes fertilized will develop until blastocysts.

Factors affecting IVF production rate:

  • Total viable oocytes collected.
  • DNA quality in gametes (semen and oocytes).
  • Quality of semen used.
  • Laboratory process, equipment and handling.

The conception rate of fresh IVF embryos is 40%, on average, and 30% for frozen thawed. Results differ a lot between breeds and breeders.

Read more regarding this topic in Embryo Transfer