What is multiple ovulation and embryo transfer? Is the technology available in Uganda?
Answer: This is the ability to make a female animal (donor) simultaneously produce several eggs (multiple ovulation) which are then fertilised to form embryos. The embryos are then transferred into other females (surrogate mothers) to be carried to term (ready to deliver).
Objectives of multiple ovulation and embryo transfer include;
- Increasing the number of offsprings that can be produced within the lifetime of a female animal. Cows with good genetics can be used to produce more offspring than they would have done in their lifetime. Using this technology, one cow can produce up to 129 offspring as opposed to the six or eight it would produce using natural methods.
- Preservation of good genetics for a long time. Embryos from female animals with quality genetics can be preserved for a long time after their death.
- Conservation of endangered species. Multiplication of rare animals or endangered species is made easier and faster.
- Easy transportation. It is easier and cheaper to transport embryos than live animals.
- Acquisition of immunity. The offspring acquire natural immunity from their surrogate mothers. This is especially helpful to exotic embryos carried by indigenous breeds which have a higher immunity in the prevailing disease conditions.
- The farmer benefits from weak animals (e.g injured, terminally ill and repeat breeds.)
- Animals of good genetics which cannot support a pregnancy to full term or have problems conceiving can benefit from the application of embryo transfer technology. While this technology is available in Uganda, it is not widely practised because it is expensive. Besides it requires a lot of skill to carry it out, and the success rate is usually very low.