Equine Embryo Transfer Technology
Embryo transfer is a technique where a 6-8 day old embryo is flushed from the uterus of a donor mare and is then transferred into a recipient mare or frozen to be transferred at a later date. The production of foals using embryo transfer (ET) is commonplace in North America but is limited to a very small number of horses, creating little or no impact or genetic gain. One factor limiting the wide-spread use of ET in horses is cost. Another is the lack of commercially available embryos for sale. In cattle, ET is used extensively and creates significant economic and genetic gain for the industry. The acceptance of ET in cattle came about after embryos could be frozen, and more importantly when the evolving technology became simpler, more reliable and inexpensive, allowing technicians and farmers to transfer these embryos successfully into recipient cows. Embryo Transfer and frozen semen is now available through Equine Embryos Inc.
 

 Opportunities for Embryo Transfer
Allows horse breeders access to a wider genetic pool.
Allows owners of good mares to obtain offspring from their mares and to profit from the sale of embryos.
Mares can be bred throughout the year and the resulting embryos can be transferred at a convenient time (i.e. in the spring).
Flexibility in importing and exporting of equine genetics.
Allows horse enthusiasts to purchase the best quality horses at a fraction of the price of a live horse
.

Cost of Producing a Foal
Breeding a mare can be an expensive proposition. The cost of producing a foal depends on the initial value of the donor mare, and therefore her yearly depreciation. Additional costs are the cost of maintaining the mare, veterinary costs, semen costs, etc. By using embryo transfer (ET), the costs of maintaining recipient mares must be added; the fertility of the stallion, the success to obtain the embryo and achieve a pregnancy  influence the final cost.
The main cost of producing a foal comes from the depreciation of the dam. Embryo transfer allows a mare to produce more foals per year and therefore reduces the per-foal depreciation cost. The second most important cost of producing pregnancies using ET comes from the maintenance of suitable recipient mares before transfer. At least three recipient mares have to be available per donor mare, so at the time of transfer one will be in good reproductive synchrony with the donor mare. New technology has enabled us to freeze horse embryos so now we need to have fewer recipient mares, reducing the overall cost. The cost of semen, is low in comparison to all the other expenses. This shows that only the best stallions must be used, even if they are more expensive.
The following table illustrates the cost of producing a foal using three different methods. This table illustrates that when one has a valuable mare, producing a foal by ET is more economical, by having an inexpensive mare carry the pregnancy. This added efficiency is the result of the donor mare producing several foals per year, as opposed as one.



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