in vitro S P E C K L E PA R K B R E E D E R S T U R N T O I N V I T RO F E RT I L I Z AT I O N TO BUILD NUMBERS
B Y A M A N D A R A D K E CATTLEWOMAN AND FREELANCE WRITER FROM SOUTH DAKOTA
“We want to mass produce females that never miss.” That’s the philosophy of Jason Goodfellow, owner of Notta Ranch located near Neilburg, Saskatchewan. The Canadian rancher started his Speckle Park operation in 1998, using conventional embryo transfer (ET) methods to more rapidly expand his herd. Last year, Notta Ranch moved to in vitro fertilization (IVF) and are expecting 100 IVF calves out of recipient cows this spring. “We plan to put 300 embryos in this year from our 25 donor cows and 25 heifers that we have in our IVF program,” said Goodfellow. “We chose the IVF route primarily so we could select females with the intention of increasing our herd numbers.” Selecting for females has its pros and cons. While Notta Ranch will have fewer bull sales this year, it’s a chance for the operation to expand their herd with proven genetics that go back to their original females, Star Bank 55R, Notta Pretender 64P and Notta Pho-Finish 54P. “We are stacking the deck with proven females who have good longevity, consistently raise good bulls, and have sound feet, legs and udders,” said Goodfellow. “When you know what you’re working with, it takes the guesswork out of it. Using IVF gets us on the fast track to build our herd using high-quality genetics we know work in our program, and hopefully it will result in a barn-burner bull sale down the road.” Goodfellow cautions fellow breeders against chasing fads
and mass producing unproven genetics. “In this breed, the demand for Speckle Park females is off the charts,” he said. “People can get themselves into trouble in a hurry if they get too excited and start mass producing just anything; it really defeats the purpose of helping the breed gain strength. However, using IVF to multiply good females (a strong emphasis on ‘good’) is the best way to advance the breed in terms of numbers and genetics more quickly.” Rob Stables, owner and president of Bow Valley Genetics located at Bassano, Alberta, says there are numerous advantages in IVF when compared to conventional ET work. “A major advantage with IVF is a female can be up to 150 days pregnant, and with conventional ET she must be open,” said Stables, who has several Canadian Speckle Park breeders as clients. “Another major advantage with IVF is one straw of valuable, expensive semen can be used to fertilize up to five embryos. With conventional ET, we use a minimum of two straws for no guarantee of embryos. We can also reverse sort the semen after thawing and choose male or female sperm, depending on the goals of the operation.” He added, “Additionally, females who have failed with conventional ET might do better in an IVF situation. For example, heifers with uterus problems might do better with IVF, as well as young heifers who could over respond to the drugs required through ET; there seems to be lower risk factors with IVF. We can also collect more embryos with IVF
“...using IVF to multiply good females is the best way to advance the breed in terms of numbers and genetics more quickly.”
T H E S P E C K L E PA R K J O U R N A L
Published on Mar 6, 2017
Featuring the 2017 International Semen & Embryo Directory. The official publication of the Canadian Speckle Park Association, published by B...