Georges Embryo Project
Last year my father Alan Marshall, my sister Domini, my friend James Thorne and I travelled to the Mt Barker Cattle sale. We intended to buy roughly 15 - 20 head of Murray Grey cattle for recips but ended up buying 78 head of cattle which was unintended as you can see. We stayed the night in Albany and then in the morning drove back to our farm in Lowden (11.5 kms East of Donnybrook) once we arrived we waited for a few hours until the truck arrived with our cattle, it was a close call when the last few wheels of the B-Double were hanging over the side of the bridge which crosses the Preston river, (our property fronts this river). All went well as the cattle were loaded off the truck and onto the front paddocks of our 200 acre property. They settled in nicely within the first week or two and now will be showing off there soon to be calves.
The two nearest pens of cattle we bought at the Mt Barker sale.
Our cattle have sat nicely over the past months during this time they have had their commercial calves which we bought them impregnated with but will soon be sold.
My fathers good friend and business partner Geoffrey Lyster who has his own Limousine Cattle Stud, was a great influence for my father and I to begin the embryo program, with success from our attempt last year we have been influenced to once again continue with the program always doing our best to result in the highest possible outcomes from each step in the program.
To start the program we had to make sure that all cows who were intended to be involved in the insemination were given an injection of Estromil a Synthetic Prostaglandin which aborts pregnancy in order for the cow to be able to carry the soon to be inserted Embryo,
The next step was to insert the CIDRS in to the cattle who would be carrying the embryos, to do this you insert a long instrument into the vagina of the cow, which deposits a splayed rod with a chemical reactant on it, this process is shown in the pictures below.
IB Personal Project
Embryo Transferring in Cattle
George Marshall MYP 5
Supervisor; Ms Mills
School: Scotch College
Farming and working with cattle is one of the things I live for, nothing compares to being out in the open, in a picturesque landscape with cattle you have a bond with. Many people think that working cattle is boring or a waste of time, this is so wrong, working with cattle is everything in one, when your with them slowly walking across the paddocks to the yards you really see that they are not just a beast standing in front of you with a price tag, they are really something, something you care for with a passion. When given the chance to use the embryo transfer program on your cattle it is something you should grab onto with both hands because if you care for your cattle, breed and stud then this is the best possible way to create the perfect line of beasts you could ask for. So when my father and I were presented with this opportunity we did so grab it with both hands because we knew the benefit it would have on our herd and how much we could gain from it.
My intentions when taking on this project were to produce the best cattle we could and have the highest possible birth rate. This is only possible if you follow strict steps beforehand to have your cattle in the perfect condition before insemination. These steps are crucial to the succession of the insemination, the cattle have to meet the exact requirements in order to be used as recips, these requirements include having us beforehand checking the cattle and having the veterinarian come out to the property and check the cattle.
The two areas I have interacted with have been The Environment and Homo Faber
My project relates to homo faber because i am literally creating life, because we are transferring embryos into our cattle we are creating new born with a pure bred blood line, "the best of the best"
My project relates to the environment because I am conducting it outdoors but not only that but because cattle are a large part in the cycle of the environment on our farm. They manure the ground and bring new life, they trod the ground therefore aerating it and helping new plant generation to occur. Having conducted my project outdoors also creates a sense of freedom for me and whoever may be helping and of course the cattle.
Embryo Transfers in cattle are used all over the world, but the main thing about Embryo transfers is that they are one step higher than the rest, many studs avoid going down that road which costs a little bit more, they can do this because they have an alternative option. Artificial Insemination in cattle is the other option, in the process of Embryo transfers they extract the Egg out of the female and insert the semen into the egg to create a Embryo, it is then inserted into a recip heifer or cow and they then carry that calf and raise it as their own, but the major benefit of embryo transfers is that you get two excellent blood lines in your produce. In the process of Artificial Insemination they are just inserting top line semen (in some cases not even top line) into a recip heifer or cow. This is ok if the heifer or cow is the one you want to breed from, but on a larger scale if you don’t have enough stub breeders and more commercial cattle than Embryo Transfers are the way to go.
2.2 Description of Process
I had to learn a few things such as how to insert The CIDR’s, and how to inject certain syringes and where. But over all there was not much that I didn’t already know, Sure I learnt a lot about the topic but in the hands on areas I was pretty much fine.
The hands on part of the project was all done on schedule as there were dates which we had to abide by. As you can see on the recent page there is a table which has the dates in which to give the cattle injections, insert the CIDR’s and apply heat patches.
At home I have fitted in moments in which I would type up areas of what we had done down at the farm. When I’m on the computer I contribute bits and pieces to my work and slowly but surely bring it together.
My major influence and whom I seek most of my information form would be my father, I have also gathered information from our veterinarian, websites, Books and magazines such as the Farm Weekly and the Countryman.
2.2.2. Collection of Resources:
My father and I already had quite a bit of knowledge on this subject, as we have been doing Embryo transfers in out cattle for a number of years. I have researched the topic in Books and on the internet in which you mainly find the same information though sometimes differing on opinions. I have not conducted a proper interview although I have asked many questions on the matter.
There is quite a considerable cost in this exercise. This project is rather expensive, buying the cattle in the first instance, the feed over the months… and years, and the fact that it is roughly one thousand dollars for each Embryo Transfer. Because this project would have gone through whether I did my personal project on it or not is mainly one of the reasons I chose it, because all expenses where paid for and that left me high and dry.
In my process of transferring embryos into cattle there were many crucial steps:
Our cattle first of all had to be on a strict diet, their poo needed to be solid before they were implanted to ensure a healthy cow. They were put on a diet of mainly oats and hay, hay was extremely important because that was what made their poo solid.
(Picture of cattle eating hay)
The main thing to do first of all is to give them a prostaglandin injection which aborts any pregnancy the cow may have.
(Picture of me injecting the cattle with a prostaglandin)
In the preparation for the implantation of the embryos we have to insert CDIR's into the heifer of cows vagina, this causes all the cattle to come on heat in the same period of time therefore they will all be ready to be inseminated on the same day.
(Picture of me inserting the CDIR’s)
Once the CDIR's have been inserted into the cattle we apply heat patches just above the pelvis on their lower back, this becomes fluorescent in colour and shows us when the cattle have been riding each other, therefore telling us that they are now on heat and ready to be implanted with the Embryo.
(Picture of myself applying one of the many heat patches to the cattle)
On the day they are due to be implanted with the embryos we round them up and bring them down to the yards.
(Picture of me bringing the cattle into the yards)
Once they are in the yards and the veterinarian has arrived we run them through and implant them each with a live embryo.
(Picture of the Veterinarian inserting the Embryos)
Here is a list of things the veterinarian will check the cattle for:
- He has to check the cattle to see whether their pregnant or not.
- He checks the pelvis (if the pelvis is to narrow the cow or heifer will have trouble calving).
- He checks whether the cow or heifers ovaries are too soft or too small.
- He checks the internal fat on the cow ( although the cow or heifer may not look to be fat it may have too much internal fat which causes a low chance of conception, and if the cow or heifer does conceive the internal fat may cause calving difficulties).
- He checks the maturity of the cow or heifers organs.
Here is a list of the things we check beforehand whilst on the farm:
- We check the heifer or cows feet.
- We check that the cow or heifer is structurally sound.
- We make sure that the cows and or heifers we are using have an excellent temperament, we mostly discover whether they do or not when we are handling them in the yards (though our whole herd has an excellent temperament).
In the short of it, the veterinarian checks mostly internal problems and my father and I check for the physical and mental problems.
My project reached both my areas of interaction realistically with a great sense of accomplishment on my behalf. As I said in my introduction how my project would reach these areas of interaction, they have done just that on the lines I have provided.
The hands on areas of my project were great, I really enjoyed being outdoors with my dad and my cattle. When I am outdoors with my cattle I love to really get into it so I can really get the most out of the occasion and learn more and more about the characteristics and mentality of my cattle. The more time I spend with my cattle the better because we learn to accept each other in our environment and do not fear one another when the other is near by. After I had finished the hands on areas of my project I went about starting to write it up, this was not as easy as I thought it would be and seemed to drag on and on. I really should have buckled down and gotten it over and done with but as it was I didn’t and it therefore made my life more stressful and interfered more and more with my social life.
2.3.2 Problem Solving:
A few times we had interruptions when they were really not wanted. Our veterinarian had to re-schedule the days in which he was supposed to come out to our property and conduct certain crucial steps in the process of our embryo transfer project. There was another disappointing matter in my project with that of only three cows taking to the embryos and therefore only three live calves being born. This was an extremely bad year for us as our cattle were not fully prepared for the journey they had ahead of them.
Apart from the constant nagging of my parents saying “have you finished you personal project yet” and having restrictions put on my social life. The personal project has helped me realize that I really do need to get things done when their given to me and get it out of the way. There were a lot of downsides to the project like my dad saying many times that I couldn’t go out until it was finished, one main annoyance was when my computer kept freezing and would not load or send my work. This became a major frustration and caused me to take my anger out on various items around my room, but once I had done so I was relaxed and ready to look at the problem from another angle.
I could not have controlled the dates for the embryo transfers, because they were on a strict schedule which had to be obeyed by, although many times it was stretched a little. But in my own time with the write up I feel like I have really not planned my time well and should have given more time on weekdays just to put a bit in and it really would have made it so much easier for me.
I found my goal very realistic and very achievable, my father and I set out to get the embryo transfer program completed and we did so. There were a few modifications along the way, these where nothing major. Mainly just dates which had to be stretched because some one could not make it on time or could not be there on that day. But apart from that I set out to achieve my goal and I did so, so I am pleased with my effort.
The project I chose was indeed incredibly close to me, I feel amazingly at home when I am working in and amongst my cattle. I feel as if they are my family, a part of me. Nothing compares to the feeling I get when I am on my farm working with the cattle, fencing, or just sitting back having a beer. Looking out over the hills from our house which is perched on its own gives you a real respect for the world and realize how lucky I am to have what I have, and to be given the opportunities I am given.
With the experience I have gained from this project I feel that I have become much more independent. My project did help me understand the areas of interaction I had chosen because at the start of the project I had just chosen to that mine related to in someway but now I look at it I realize how my project really contributes to those aspects and also how much it contributes to my learning.
I George Marshall state that this work is of my own, and none of which is false contents or plagiarized.
Word Count: 2,363
- Farm Weekly, October 20, 2005 Edition
- Countryman, October 20, 2005 Edition
- Mr. Beaton and his help in class
- My father
- Geoffry Lyster
- Veterinarian Richard Hall
- Pierre (someone) in France
(News Clipping from Farm Weekly October 20, 2005)
(News Clipping from Countryman October 20, 2005)