Genetic gains via IVF at Rockley Brahmans

Genetic gains via IVF at Rockley Brahmans

To consistently deliver the best of breed Red Brahmans, and to assure we can meet demand, we use an IVF process whereby we carefully select parents based on strict criteria to ensure progeny have strong genetics and deliver fertile, sound cattle.

In simple terms, IVF involves a four-step procedure:

1.       Select superior females from which to remove unfertilised eggs

2.       Identify elite bulls that have semen available for use

3.       Combine the egg and semen in a Petri dish in sterile conditions offsite

4.       Implant viable embryos into a surrogate mother

In our view, breeding via IVF is a healthy option because, unlike the process of embryo transfer, donor cattle do not need drugs to ensure successful reproduction. We believe an over-use of pharmaceuticals can risk infertility down the track.

Additionally, the process does not interrupt the females’ natural breeding pattern as they can be in calf when eggs are extracted. IVF can be regularly undertaken (every fortnight or thereabouts) and works well with young cattle. It’s important to note, we only select young cattle whose parents have proven to be strong, reliable performers in the paddock. Extracting eggs from pre-pubescent females allows us to more quickly turn over strong genetics so we can meet demand at the annual Big Country Brahman Sale and the Rockhampton Brahman Week Sale (RBWS).

Conversely, we also opt to extract eggs from older females. These are females we have monitored over many years. We can therefore undertake IVF with a strong assurance their progeny will be equally sound or better. Knowing we have a strong, solid base upon which to build, enables us to breed superior progeny.

Cattle conceived through IVF are closely monitored. In conjunction with our elite weaner grading system, we assess performance and cull those progeny that do not measure up to our high standards. This cyclical process uses alternate bulls and females until we are satisfied the progeny meet our expectations of premium Red Brahman cattle. Proven progeny that can be categorised as ‘elite’ then set a benchmark, or standard, upon which future progeny can be assessed.

Admittedly, and understandably, our first foray into IVF came as a consequence of the detection of Bovine Johne’s Disease at Rockley in 2012. Whilst adopting IVF was initially done to rapidly turn over our already strong genetics, the results have led to even higher standards whereby we are now consistently breeding first-rate Red Brahmans in quantities that will endeavour to meet increasing  demand.

In summary, parental selection is key to producing elite Red Brahmans via IVF. We only use our top females, closely scrutinising them against our 7 Elite Breeding Attributes and basing our decision on whether or not we would choose a bull or female from that donor for our own stud. Fast genetic gains are the overwhelming advantage of this process, providing the purchaser with peace of mind that their new bulls and females, for stud or commercial applications, will meet with expectations.

Please contact us to learn more about how our Rockley Brahmans’ quality breeding practices can deliver elite Red Brahmans for your stud or herd. Please call us at Rockley Bajool (07 4934 6317) or Ungarra Moura (0408 780 810) or email kirk@rockleybrahmans.com.au.

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