AB Europe offers dedicated embryo freezing and storage facilities, enabling UK sheep breeders to freeze embryos from elite females and in turn preserve their best genetics.

AB Europe is the UK’s leading provider of embryo freezing services for sheep, offering breeders the opportunity to freeze embryos both in season and out of season. We have successfully super-ovulated and flushed ewes outside of the main breeding season and frozen these embryos for implanting the next breeding season. The process enables valuable ewes to be flushed throughout the year.

Ewes found barren at scanning can also be flushed to collect embryos which are frozen for transfer in the next breeding season.

Breeders can access our dedicated UK facilities to export embryos worldwide. Most international movement of livestock genetics now occurs in the form of frozen embryos, with AB Europe providing DEFRA approved quarantine facilities in Malvern and Edinburgh.




The AB Europe technical team answers your questions

What does embryo flushing and freezing involve?

The donor ewe is super-ovulated using exogenous hormones so that she produces more eggs than usual at a synchronised mating. This programme usually lasts 20 days, the ewe is artificially inseminated (AI’d) on day 14 with the six-day-old fertilised embryos being ‘flushed’ from her on day 20. Embryos are then frozen or cryo-preserved for future use. The flushing process is performed under general anaesthetic and will take approximately 30 minutes per ewe. Embryos are then checked, placed in a special freezing medium and chilled slowly ready for storage.

How may embryos will one ewe produce?

Although it varies greatly, on average about seven embryos are collected per super-ovulated flush from a ewe during the breeding season.

Will a ewe always produce embryos suitable for freezing?

The answer is NO. Embryos are graded against a standard and only grade 1 and 2 embryos are frozen. The quality of the embryos is always checked again post-thawing.

How are frozen embryos stored?

Sheep embryos are generally frozen in plastic straws, with each straw containing between two and four embryos of a similar developmental stage from the same flush. Embryos are stored in tanks of liquid nitrogen, which keeps the embryos frozen at a temperature of around −196°C or −321°F.

I want to have embryos frozen for export, what must I do?

AB Europe has dedicated teams who have expertise in the import and export of frozen embryos. Special quarantine requirements exist for different countries.

See Imports and Exports for further information.


How much does embryo freezing cost?

For further information on costs and to get a specific quote for your circumstances, please contact your local AB Europe centre.