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What is surgical embryo transfer in sheep?

Article ID: 366
Last updated: 02 Dec, 2009
Revision: 1
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Surgical embryo transfer involves the collection and transfer of embryos from genetically superior ewes to donor ewes. Embryo collection requires penetration of the abdominal cavity and flushing of the oviducts. The collected embryos are then transferred to donor ewes by laparotomy (surgical) or laparoscopic technique which also requires penetration of the abdominal cavity.

Embryo transfer is carried out as a means of producing a greater number of genetically improved progeny than can be achieved through conventional breeding.

The RSPCA believes that, where surgical embryo transfer is conducted, adequate anaesthesia, pre- and post-operative analgesia must be provided. Embryo collection and transfer must not be conducted routinely on the same ewe and synchronisation of oestrous of ewes which are to undergo the procedure must be under the supervision of a veterinary surgeon.

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