Each year here at Bieber Red Angus Ranch we grow and change. Through the last few years we have focused on growing our Embryo Transfer program. To do this we have added more donor cows, added more flush cycles and found more cooperating ranches to implant embryos in their cows and raise the ET calves to weaning. This fall we will have over 250 embryo calves coming back to the ranch from our cooperators at weaning time and we have implanted 600 embryos that were collected conventionally here at the ranch by our embryologist.
A new addition to our embryo program this year was taking a couple cows to Yackley Ranch a Trans Ova Satellite Center near Onida, SD for IVF collection. We currently have Bieber Adelle 311Y at Yackleys. This past week we picked up Bieber Tilly 399W who is Bieber Rollin Deep Y118's dam and we dropped off Bieber Tilly 233U, who is Bieber Spartacus A193's dam.
We flushed Bieber TIlly 399W, who is currently bred, through the IVF collection process. This process also called an Aspiration or Ovum Pick Up, is the process of harvesting unfertilized oocytes directly from the ovaries of a donor cow or heifer. Rocovered oocytes are then fertilized one day after asperation and transferred into a recipient cows seven days later in a process which is similar to the transfer process for embryos produced through conventional (in vivo) embryo transfer. The IVF collection process can be used on cows that are currently bred (until they reach 100 days bred) and cows that have been unable to achieve success through conventional embryo transfer. One of the Trans Ova locations that offer IVF is Yackley Ranches just outside of Onida.
When driving through the pastures at Yackley Ranch it is obvious that this reproduction's main focus is cow comfort and low stress cattle handling. Every corral, each pasture and the three working facilities are set up for low stress, efficient cattle movements. Stress from things like cow pecking order, nutritional stresses, and overcrowding all cause cows to release certain hormones that negetively influence reproductive performance. The facility design and cattle handling at Yackley ranches help cows produce as many offspring as possible. On most reproduction centers the donor cows and the calves on side are kept in pens or individual runs, but at Yackleys all of the donors can be out on pasture. They are also set up for donors with special dietary needs and have individual runs and pastures available for donors who need their own space.
The working facilities are also set up to be low stress. There are three different working facilities at Yackleys. One is devoted to giving all of the injections to set the donors up for the next flush cycle. This barn is equipped with individual pens for keeping donors sorted/seperated if necessary, an overhead sprinkler system for keeping the working facility dust free, and overhead fly control sprinkler. The next working faclity is devoted to AI breeding the conventional donors. There is never a shot given in this barn, which is also equipped with sprinklers and fly control, because they want the donors stress level to stay as low as possible. This building also contains the Ranch's Heat Watch system. This system detects the precise onset of heat and tells you when the best time to AI that particular cow is. They use the Heat Watch system for all of the cows they are flushing conventionally. The last building is the lab which is set up with precise environmental conditons, that adds to the success of collecting and transplanting embryos.
All of the pastures and cattle runs at the ranch are set up to flow toward the working facilities. Instead of chasing cattle up to the barn they instead open up gates the night or day before the cattle need to be worked and allow them to flow toward the working facilities.
We waited for some time to get our cattle into Yackley satellite center and are happy that we choose them. It is comforting to know that Yackleys will treat your best cattle as if they are their own!