FOR bovine reproduction expert Luiz Porto it’s all about producing better beef.
The Brazilian trained vet said that’s achieved by taking the genetics of the best performing animals and by using In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF), rapidly decreasing the interval generation to select increasingly superior animals.
Dr Porto is the business manager of Inventia Genetic Technologies, a biotechnology company based in the Queensland Institute of Medical Research in Brisbane. The company, which was on display at centre ring during the stud cattle judging at the Ekka, is generating plenty of interest in the seedstock industry.
“There are two ways of achieving genetic improvements,” Dr Porto said.
“Either increase the pressure on the selections of desired animals or produce more progeny using the same genetic material.
“IVF is so effective because it decreases the interval generation. We can take the oocytes (eggs) from the top one per cent of a herd of cows, fertilise those eggs with the semen of our choice to produce multiple calves with the desired genetic material.
“IVF produces many more calves from the best cows than any other artificial breeding technology.”
In the past 18 months IGT has created more than 5000 embryos. Brahmans are the best performed, producing about 20 eggs, which result in six to eight viable embryos.
At 90 days 49 per cent of the implanted females are pregnant. Ultimately 44pc of the implanted embryos result in a live calf on the ground. Other breeds produce about 10-12 eggs resulting in three to four viable embryos.
Dr Porto said there was no special preparation needed for donor cows. Eggs could be harvested 20-30 days after calving, at 21 day intervals, and up to 90 days of pregnancy.
Recipient females were synchronised using the same technology as a fixed time AI program.
Dr Porto said a challenge for the beef cattle genetics industry was the lack of government protocols for exporting In Vitro produced embryos, which would enable Australia’s cattleman to sell superior genetics into global markets.
Retaining genetic material at slaughter
The value of IVF was well demonstrated in a recent exercise Inventia Genetic Technologies carried out at the request of a client and in cooperation with a major beef processor.
In an effort to better manage valuable Wagyu genetics, the ovaries of heifers that were being slaughtered were set aside while the carcases were processed.
When those carcases were graded and the higher marbling score carcases were identified, the still viable eggs were harvested from the relevant ovaries. The ovaries from the animals that had produced lower marbling meat were discarded.
“Unless we had to retained those ovaries at the point of slaughter, no matter how much we subsequently knew about those animals after they were processed, the genetic material would have been lost,” Dr Porto said.
“Fortunately we were able to harvest the eggs from the best performing animals and continue the process of accelerated genetic gain.” The harvested eggs were later fertilised in IGT’s laboratory in Brisbane.