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Jun. 01, 2000

Reproductive Biotechniques for the Breeding of Cattle and Water Buffaloes

In a regional survey on Applied Biotechnology in Animal Production, carried out in 1999, it was noted that some advances in biotechnology are now applicable at the farm level. One promising area is the improvement of the reproductive capacity of livestock. As a follow-up activity, the Center organized this training course in the Philippines. It focused on the application of reproductive biotechniques to the breeding of cattle and water buffalo (carabao).

Important topics of the training course included artificial insemination; rectal palpation; superovulation; in vivo collection of embryos by non-surgical procedures, embryo selection and evaluation; production of embryos in vitro including handling, fertilization of oocytes (eggs) and embryo culture; and embryo transfer in cattle and water buffaloes. Other topics were the technical and practical aspects of cryopreservation and the preparation of media and stock solutions for in vitro fertilization and embryo culture. The training course included both lectures and practical hands-on training exercises applied to both cattle and water buffalo. The trainees were also introduced to Taiwan's experience in embryo sexing technology and its dissemination through embryo transfer.

It is hoped that this short training course helped to enrich the knowledge and improve the competence of the participants in the field reproductive biotechnology for cattle and water buffalo. Another output from this activity is a training manual, now being developed for publication.

Improving the Breeding Potential

Improving the genetic potential of livestock has been a major concern in many advanced countries for several decades, and has recently also become a major objective in developing countries. New techniques taught at the training course are a useful way of improving the reproductive efficiency of genetically superior animals. Improved genes are in this way transmitted to a greater number of offspring, while the interval between generations is reduced. This speeds up the genetic improvement of farm animals, and helps reduce the cost.

Increased Ai Efficiency

One of the earliest techniques developed in livestock breeding was artificial insemination (AI), which permits the amplification of use of superior males. This technique was further strengthened with the use of frozen semen and manipulation of ovarian function for estrus synchronization. AI is expected to remain a major technology for use in buffalo genetic improvement in the future. At least in the immediate future, increases in AI efficiency in Asia will be less a matter of improved techniques, and more a matter of greater skill among the human beings applying the techniques. Of particular importance are better timing of AI, suitable handling of semen, and hygiene.

Future Breeding Programs for Water Buffalo

We can expect water buffalo to remain an important part of the Asian rural economy for many years as a source of draft power, milk and meat. Over the centuries, natural and human selection have produced a strong, hardy animal that can thrive on fairly low-quality feed and forage. Further genetic improvement is needed, to enhance the quality and quantity of its milk and meat. However, the potential for doing this is limited by the long generation interval of the water buffalo, and its low reproductive rate.

Among females buffalo, superovulatory treatments to produce embryos in vivo yielded on average only 1-2 transferable embryos per collection. Production of embryos in vitro using ovum pick-up in combination with IVM/IMF has been tried to a limited extent and may be improved as an alternative technology to superovulation and in vivo embryo production in buffalo.

Training Course on the Use of Reproductive Biotechniques for Cattle and Water Buffaloes

Held at the Philippine Carabao Center and the Dairy Training and Research Institute, University of the Philippines at Los Banos, on June 5 _ 16

No. of Participating Countries: 7 (Indonesia, Korea, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan ROC, Thailand, and Vietnam)

No. of trainees: 10

No. of training staff: 12

Co-sponsors: Dairy Training & Research Institute, University of the Philippines at Los Banos

Philippine Carabao Center, Department of Agriculture, Philippines

Philippine Council for Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCARRD)

Index of Images

  • Figure 1 Injecting Female Water Buffalo with Hormones to Induce Estrus

    Figure 1 Injecting Female Water Buffalo with Hormones to Induce Estrus

  • Figure 2 Training in Embryo Transfer

    Figure 2 Training in Embryo Transfer

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