The Ovum Pick Up technique in the buffalo, as in cattle, consists in the transvaginal removal of the oocytes by aspiration of the ovarian follicles with the aid of an ultrasound probe, followed by in vitro fertilization and cultivation of the fertilized oocytes. The procedure is described in the Ovum Pick Up bovine page to which reference is made.
This technique is particularly important in the buffalo where the genetic improvement is slowed down above all by poor reproductive efficiency (in intensive rearing) due to several issues:
- difficulty in detecting heat;
- very little use of artificial insemination;
- poor fertility of frozen semen;
- poor results attainable through superovulation (the average of transferable embryos ranges between 1 and 2 embryos for flushing against 5-6 of the cow).
Buffalos born in 1998 at Az. Gerardo da Izano with the OPU technique
OPU can overcome most of the reproductive difficulties mentioned above because:
- no hormone treatment is required;
- it is possible to produce embryos rapidly, performing 1-2 samples per week obtaining an average of 1 embryo per sample;
- all buffaloes are suitable donors starting from 18 months of age, even during the first 3 months of pregnancy and during lactation;
- OPU does not interfere with the reproductive and productive cycle, so there is no loss in milk production;
- it is possible to use sexed seed (sexually available seed) for the production of in vitro embryos.
In 1997, the Avantea team began to develop the Ovum Pick Up (OPU) technique in the buffalo obtaining the following year the birth of the first buffaloes in the world through the transfer of frozen embryos produced in vitro.
The results already obtained by Avantea show that the Ovum Pick Up is the most effective reproductive technique in order to safeguard the genetic heritage of superior animals and consequently to improve the business productivity of a buffalo farm.