Richard and Carol Rettie are amongst a growing number of Aberdeen Angus breeders who are successfully using IVP to exploit some of the best genetics from their 25 cow Retties herd based at Methven, Perth.
Richard explains: “Our IVP success story began after several unsuccessful attempts using MOET on a number of cows. We’d heard about IVP, decided to try, and were immediately successful producing a number of oocytes from those same cows. In turn, we achieved several embryos and our first IVP resulted in a 75% pregnancy rate.
“That first collection included from 14-year-old Idvies Evita B088 and we achieved two calves. The first, Retties Evita U005, by Retties JFK M195 has already won a number of accolades in 2018 including AA Summer National Show calf champion, AA Winter National Show heifer calf champion, Rising Stars interbreed champion and Black Beauty Bonanza reserve junior champion. The second calf, Retties Eviction U003 was first in his class at Stars of the Future.
“IVP has also been introduced to a number of cattle whilst in livery on our unit. The fact that donors don’t require to be jagged twice a day for a week is an all-round added bonus.”
He adds: “IVP has been a good option to produce embryos from cows which haven’t responded to MOET – both our own and those in livery. We had no problems calving, the calves were average weight and full of vigour. We are looking forward to more IVP calves joining our herd in future.”
Aileen Ritchie has so far used IVP on four of her Limousin herd’s foundation females including the 24,000gns Brockhurst Howzat, and she says she is thrilled with the results. “Howzat has produced a total of 20 embryos in four flushes and we’ve already implanted five of them.”
Aileen, together with the father Walter, has established her Ritchies herd of 10 pedigree breeding cows over the last five years at Whitecairns, Aberdeenshire. “We’re focused on breeding bulls for the commercial market and eventually to close the herd,” she explains.
“It’s all about quality, not quantity; we’ve carefully invested in some of the best bloodlines and IVP is helping us to exploit those genetics to their full potential.
“IVP is proving to be a very cost-effective process; in fact, we’ve achieved a 75% hold rate for the 19 embryos we’ve already implanted in purchased high health commercial recipients. We keep the recipients in groups in the same conditions, in terms of nutrition, for six weeks after implantation in order to give them the best possible chance of success.
“We are very selective which sires we use, and are able to use just the one semen straw over all the oocytes which makes for massive cost savings.
“IVP is welfare friendly. Compared with MOET which required several jags to the extent the cows would get sick of it, there is no set up requirement at all. No jags are involved. We bring the cows straight in from the field or off the yard the same morning, the AB Europe team arrives, carries out the process – we all remain cool, calm and collected and that goes for the cows too, and we turn them back out immediately afterwards.”
She adds: “We are currently building up a bank of embryos to safeguard specific genetics, and IVP is providing a major helping hand towards that goal.”
Simmental breeder Robert Macgregor is successfully using IVP to make the most of some of the top genetics from his Team herd of Simmentals based at Kirkton of Mailer, Perth.
He initially implanted 10 embryos resulting in four live calves from Team Celtic – three bulls and one heifer. Next, a further six frozen embryos were implanted, all of which have held to their first scan. He says he found the process to be simple, welfare friendly and cost-effective.
“IVP was very straight forward. No prep was required, no drugs, no line up, no stress. We simply brought the two cows in from the paddock, Gavin Tait arrived to the steading and the job was done within 60 minutes.
“Team Misty 5 was one of the two donors; she is amongst the best females I’ve bred since I established the herd 30 years ago. She is within the breed’s top 5%, a Royal Highland reserve junior interbreed champion and one of her bull calves made 5,000gns. A point came when she wouldn’t hold, I tried MOET which proved to be unsuccessful, and she was ready to go away when I heard about and moved on to IVP.
“The two bulls we used over the collection included Team Celtic 11 who is also within the breed’s top 1% and trait leader for 200, 400 and 600 day weights; we sold him to Wolfstar for 11,000gns in 2012, and Celtic’s first eight sons sold at auction averaged 10,500gns.
“Overall, the project has been such a success, we have had no hesitation agreeing to take a second collection from Misty.”
Heather Whittaker has found IVP to be the solution to exploit some of the best genetics from her Coley herd of pedigree Herefords based near Halifax, West Yorkshire.
“We had several attempts at using MOET to help expand our herd,” she explains. “However, we had read about IVP and its success in New Zealand and after more research we discovered it was available in the UK; in fact, we found ourselves to be amongst the forerunners to introduce IVP back in 2016. Since then, we’ve achieved five successful collections with an average seven embryos per collection.
“Compared with MOET, we’ve found IVP to be less intrusive, it provides flexibility in that we’ve been able to take a collection from maiden heifers as well as in calf heifers and cows, and we can use a variety of different semen. No line up of drugs is required for both donor and recipients, consequently there is less stress incurred for all involved.
“Gavin Tait arrived on the farm and the procedures went smoothly, both the collections and introducing the embryos to the recipients,” she says.
“Overall, IVP has helped us to facilitate selection from our best females and from a range of sires, including Australian bred; they’re all within the breed’s top 10% and selected on conformation and consistency of progeny. IVP is a tool we plan to continue to use and Coley I Pilot is amongst the scheduled sires.”