SUVA, July 4 (Xinhua) -- The Fijian government has adopted an embryo transfer technology program to improve beef and dairy genetics in Fiji.
Fiji's Ministry of Agriculture has committed to this program to ensure a quick introduction of improved breeds to rehabilitate the cattle industry from the effects of bovine tuberculosis and brucellosis through producing quality cattle breeds.
Embryo transfer technology is globally recognized as the fastest method of genetic improvement in cattle. The process improves cattle reproduction through the insertion of in-vitro fertilized embryos into the uterus of a selected recipient cow with the aim to induce pregnancy.
Ronil Prasad, Fiji's Ministry of Agriculture acting senior research officer for livestock, said Wednesday this technology allowed the developing of pure-bred embryos under sterilized laboratory conditions from the donor cattle and the local recipient cattle to synchronize to accept these embryos.
"Oocytes (eggs) are collected via ultrasound-guided aspiration of ovarian follicles at any stage of the cow's oestrus cycle; these oocytes are then fertilized and matured in the laboratory using the selected semen from a bull."
"The resulting embryos are then cultured for a further seven days and transferred into suitably synchronized recipients. The embryos can be further frozen, stored and used later depending on the breeding plan," Prasad said.
The ministry is in its second phase of the embryo transfer technology program and a team of biotechnology experts from Australia recently transferred 90 embryos into local Fijian cows at the Livestock Research stations.
"The resulting pregnancy rates in the region using this technology are expected to be 50 percent or greater depending on the management and reproductive capability of the cattle," Prasad said.
Meanwhile, Director of Australian Reproductive Technology Simon Walton said the genetics brought to Fiji were particularly adapted to tropical environments and would do well under Fiji's climatic conditions.
He added climate change had affected the cattle industry and the onus was on government to ensure they reared cattle better suited to warmer conditions.
"This genetics will filter down to the local farmers after adaptability studies by the researchers so that they can be used to improve on-farm genetics through proper breeding plans in future."