< Dr Andy Borrowman & Kevin Tlucek: Ovum Pick Up (OPU)
USA Vet Dr Andy Borrowman
USA farmer Kevin Tlucek of Snake River Dairies

Ovum Pick Up is a mature technology that can accelerate genetic progress and is now within reach of commercial dairy farms, believes Idaho vet Andy Borrowman.

Ovum Pick Up (OPU) is a non-invasive technique for recovering oocytes or egg cells from the follicles of live cows. Once washed, sorted, and graded the oocytes are then In-Vitro fertilised and cultured before being frozen in individual straws. The frozen straws can then be transferred into recipient cattle.

The use of this technology with cattle is not new, with Dutch researchers carrying out OPU in cattle in 1988, while IVF was first used in 1981. However, interest in its use has increased in recent years due to the arrival of two other technologies – genomics and sexed semen, says Andy. The availability of low-cost, reliable genomic testing has meant that OPU/IVF now has the ability to accelerate genetic progress in cattle at an unprecedented rate. Meanwhile the ability to use sexed semen doubles the amount of female offspring resulting from IVF.

In his presentation at the BCBC conference Andy will give a vet’s perspective. As well as setting the scene with a brief history and explanation of the OPU process he will outline what is needed for an on-farm facility and the practical considerations for donors.

Dairy farmer Kevin Tlucek will then share his own experiences from five years use of genomic testing alongside Ovum Pick Up (OPU) and IVF on his farm in southwest Idaho. Kevin milks 2000 Holsteins on his family farm and now has on-farm data which he says demonstrates that the test is a good predictor of future performance.

Kevin will give delegates an insight into his own on-farm OPU lab including how and why it came about and what was involved in setting it up including some of the difficulties and learning experiences along the way. His presentation will cover the benefits that using this technology has brought his business including comparison of the costs of producing a live calf using OPU/IVF versus artificial insemination. Kevin will also discuss how the technology has affected the overall herd performance and herd genetics.