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Embryo Transfer: Past, Present and Future ... And the "Custom" foal.

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  • Embryo Transfer: Past, Present and Future ... And the "Custom" foal.

    In talking to a fellow horse breeder this morning... several (IMHO) good questions/thoughts were raised. I thought I would open them up here on COTH to see what I could learn.

    This is the example:

    I really would like to breed to stallion X (for various solid reasons). But the resulting foal would be a "custom" foal for me, and yes, does entail a certain color.


    But to be able to breed to stallion X...and try and get as close to ideal with this custom foal, I would need a very unique mare (color wise). Quality/conformation/movement/temperament is going to be a given in this hypothetical situation =).

    There are probably only a handful of applicable mares out there right now. Most not for sale.

    [end of example]

    Which led me to the thought of "Why not ET"?

    I used to work for a farm, whose standard operation was ET...by the mass...probably 50 mares a year...

    That was a handful of years ago. and it was big $$$ stud fees. The mares they were breeding, it was not an option to sustain them to the potential risks of pregnancy

    So I am only assuming that ET has come a little further since then.

    I do know a few breeders doing ET.

    My thoughts, which led me here... is while I really would like to breed to stallion X at some point, I would need this specific colored mare for my ideal custom foal.. and who is to say that I really want to *buy* said mare... just for this one foal. (yes I could breed her for years to come if I bought her, but hypothetically, let's say I am NOT a breeder...I just want this foal).

    With this discussion spurred another discussion..

    The era of ET and the new age.

    Hypothetically,

    let's say I want to get into the sporthorse breeding adventures..(in a perfect world, without the current economy conditions). But let's say, instead of going out and buying one really nice mare, and a few decent mares...that I wanted to buy 2 or 3 recipient mares...and go the route of ET.. Eggs being from some stellar quality mares that I may not have been able to afford otherwise.

    From the buyer and sellers point of view..what are some of the pro's and con's? what does pricing look like? for the eggs, the protocol, who pays for vet related costs, risks to the donor mare etc.

    and a main question..and I'm hoping some of the Repro experts chime in here..

    Is ET at the stage of being "ready"/practical for the "amateur" breeder?... amateur not meaning inexperienced, but breeding small scale, selectively, not commercially.

    Price/ ET sites/ success rate, etc.

    Also, a question...in equines... is it a possibility to freeze embryo's yet? I believe in humans you can... just curious.

    I am not AS up to date of my ET in the last few years.. hence my urge to learn something with this thread =)

    Anyways.. like I said... it made my wheels really get to cycling...and I thought it might spur some others and make for good discussion!
    Last edited by DontStrikeOut; Jan. 16, 2011, 07:51 PM.
    "Never let the fear of striking out, keep you from playing the game."
  • Original Poster

    #2
    Small <bump>
    "Never let the fear of striking out, keep you from playing the game."

    Comment


    • #3
      ET foals where are they?

      Just to widen the discussion, ET has been in operation for several decades now, I am puzzled at the seeming lack of successful products in competition. Or are there lots of them out there and winning and it is just not recorded that they are the result of ET?

      Comment


      • #4
        For starters of course Jockey Club doesn't allow it for registered TB's. Many other registries do.

        Yes, you can freeze embryo's and if using your own mares for recipients it is probably the way to go as you don't have to match donor mare and recipient mare in their cycles.

        QH breeders, esp in the upper levels of competition in things like cutting, have done a lot of ET....in fact there was a lawsuit brought by some breeders against AQHA as at that time only one foal per mare per year was allowed to be registered. The breeders felt this was an infringement on business as they could sell multiple foals for reasonably high prices if registered (and they were selling them with DNA parentage verification done for good prices but not as high as the registered foals). The case didn't go to trial but AQHA did change the rules to allow multiple foals from a mare by way of surrogate dams. They are noted on the registration papers in both AQHA and APHA. In fact, one of my own mares, a proven producer herself, is an ET baby. There are a few QH breeders out there that have exceptional mares that are actually selling eggs with the option of fertilization to a select group of stallions...the buyer buys a fertilized egg and it is either implanted fresh into a recipient or is frozen (and in some cases shipped) for later implantation in a recipient elsewhere. With both of these organizations you have to declare the intention to do ET, to pay fees, do parentage verification DNA on foal (along with stallion, donor mare and recipient mare as I remember). Not sure what the costs are but did talk with a fellow in AZ not too long ago and he said costs to flush, fertilize and use his own recipient mares cost about $3500 per attempt and of 7 tries he got one foal.....wasn't too impressed.
        Colored Cowhorse Ranch
        www.coloredcowhorseranch.com
        Northern NV

        Comment


        • #5
          If you have your own recipient and your vet is willing and able to synchronize her cycle to the donor mare's cycle, you can reduce costs to about $2000 in our neighborhood. Recipient cost (buy or lease) can run an additional few thousand. We adopted a OTTB rescue mare and she worked out well.
          It is economically feasible to breed by ET in a small breeding program if successful on one or two tries in our opinion. We did one ET so far and succeeded on one attempt with a healthy and very talented filly. We had a terrific therio vet and a bit of luck!

          Comment


          • #6
            We breed primarily by ET and produce about 20 pure German Holsteiner foals a year. It can be economic but you have to have a great Theriogenologist and know what you are doing. Check out www.branscombfarm.com

            Happy to suggest someone in your area or you can have a breeder ship embryos to a recip farm in your area to gestate and foal out at home.
            Kc Branscomb Kelley
            Branscomb Farm
            http://www.branscombfarm.com

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by chector View Post
              Just to widen the discussion, ET has been in operation for several decades now, I am puzzled at the seeming lack of successful products in competition. Or are there lots of them out there and winning and it is just not recorded that they are the result of ET?
              My oldest homebred is an ET foal. She'll be 9 this year, and is about to move up to Advanced in eventing.

              There's nowhere in the USEF/FEI/USEA paperwork that would identify an ET foal so I think these things just stay under the radar.

              Comment

              • Original Poster

                #8
                Thanks for the input/replies everyone!

                I had a suspicion that ET was far more progressed than it was a handful of years ago... but it really isn't "publicly" advertised much yet. and that's what I was curious about.

                I think the remaining part of the question is... How much do Mare Owner's charge for the Embryo? and how many MO's are willing to sell Embryos? Is there a real harm to the mare? or just time invested/costs, to harvest?

                I know it depends on the mare, quality, achievements etc. But I'm curious as what a price range looks like....

                I've heard several fellow breeder friends, and have found myself even saying [since i'm not a breeder right now, but contemplating getting back to it once the market picks up]...."I'm not sure I'd want X many mares... I would rather have the various options for mares, kind of like with stallions".

                Just an interesting concept.

                As I know... right now.. there are only a few mares/lines... that I would really want in my "band", permanently.
                "Never let the fear of striking out, keep you from playing the game."

                Comment


                • #9
                  I found this article on Hugh Graham's KingRidge Stable pretty intresting:http://www.horse-canada.com/?p=4339

                  Unlimited budget, unlimited breeding stock, 5 full sibling embryo transfers in one year and they wern't overly thrilled with the results.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I have done a bunch of ETs. The first was back in 2003 and the resulting foal had a rough start when her surrogate dam rejected her. That filly went on to be an Elite Mare and was super under saddle. She's now proving her worth as a broodmare.

                    I have done 6 ETs with another mare over the last few years. Three were full siblings to a foal that the mare had produced naturally. One was by another stallion and I am waiting for the last two to be born in March. This is an exceedingly strong mare who is transmitting much of her best qualities very reliably and IMO that is the sort of mare that you want to use for ETs.
                    Mary Lou
                    http://www.homeagainfarm.com

                    https://www.facebook.com/HomeAgainFarmHanoverians

                    Member OMGiH I loff my mares clique

                    Comment

                    • Original Poster

                      #11
                      Home again...

                      That is interesting...

                      So...even though the recipient mare bore the foal herself... the mare still rejected it?

                      In my years of ET, I haven't seen that... It didn't even cross my mind!

                      I do know that when considering/ a following through with ET, that the recipient mare is perhaps one of the most important pieces of the puzzle. We had several recip mares that probably never should have been in the pool. But the discipline that these ET's were used for.... the behavioral aspects were not high priority in the grand scheme of things. (to the owners)
                      "Never let the fear of striking out, keep you from playing the game."

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        The mare was the ET mare from h#ll. She would have killed the filly if I had not been there to intervene. Every time the filly tried to move past her shoulder to nurse, the mare would grab her by the neck and savage her. No amount of dugs changed things, and I raised the filly as an orphan.

                        I now use a different surrogate provider and they carefully screen their mares. So far, all have been fine. They tend to use TBs, big bodied QHs and Appys. Some have been a little shy, but they have been fine by the time they foal. Right now I have one that is reminding me too much of the first ET mare, so we are working like mad to establish both trust and respect.
                        Mary Lou
                        http://www.homeagainfarm.com

                        https://www.facebook.com/HomeAgainFarmHanoverians

                        Member OMGiH I loff my mares clique

                        Comment

                        • Original Poster

                          #13
                          Ouch Marylou!

                          We had several very sketchy mares... Part of my job at the time was to receive these Recip mares from the range... and "tame" them...Most were TB/QH/Appy...

                          But let me tell you... some of them were just terrifying...

                          It did amaze me one year... the mare that I knew from the first foot off the trailer...was going to be "my case"....by the time she foaled... (mid august) and I had her since February....

                          By foaling she had made a total 180....was NOT a pocket pony... but I trusted her enough and had enough faith that she could foal this baby...and allow me to help if need be...and that I would be able to help raise baby...

                          it was "my" prized TB mare... that was bearing her own foal... that turned out to be a total skitz when foaling and ended up killing her filly

                          I learned a lot when working that farm!

                          and the recip mare that I dreaded.... was the the one that taught me that sometimes....recip mare behavior has no barring on the foal.... the foal was an ACTUAL monster... not by environment...but full on genetics.
                          "Never let the fear of striking out, keep you from playing the game."

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I think the cost of a top embryo is likely $5000 less than the cost of the foal if itcwere managed to term. So maybe $8000-$10000. That is my experience for an in Utero deal
                            Kc Branscomb Kelley
                            Branscomb Farm
                            http://www.branscombfarm.com

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I really would like to breed to stallion X (for various solid reasons). But the resulting foal would be a "custom" foal for me, and yes, does entail a certain color.
                              I think the cost of a top embryo is likely $5000 less than the cost of the foal if itcwere managed to term. So maybe $8000-$10000. That is my experience for an in Utero deal
                              I wouldn't have guessed so expensive! But with the OP also wanting a certain color (I'm guessing a rare one so these mares won't be a dime a dozen to buy or buy embryos from) maybe its about right.

                              OP I'm curious, can you share the color and breed youre hoping for if it were hypothetically possible to buy an embryo?
                              "No snowflake in an avalanche ever feels responsible." George Burns

                              Comment

                              • Original Poster

                                #16
                                Pinecone

                                The mare in question... I'm thinking... would [for my purposes] need to be either double dilute TB or WB....or a loud(er) sabino TB or WB mare....

                                Which was sort of the onset of the line of thinking...

                                The specific stallion is a Weltstern..and the stallion is pretty much the fixed element.

                                Quality/temperament is of course of the utmost importance.

                                But since the foal would be a long the lines of a "dream" foal for me... (of course I would hypothetically pray for a filly that could later on, go into my future breeding program), and since the stallion is a fixed element.... the "issue" becomes the mare.

                                Now granted... by the time I ever get around to breeding, if it ever happens... DD TB or WB or loud(er) sabino TB or WB mares may be a dime a dozen and this would pretty much be null and void..

                                But the line of thinking also goes into... in my future program... I may not want to buy the mare for future use... but perhaps have a selection of mares (or eggs) to chose from over different years... (much like we have that option with stallions, if that makes any sense).
                                "Never let the fear of striking out, keep you from playing the game."

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  DontStrikeOut -- Keep me in mind, I may have the perfect mare for your future project She's the third mare on this page, the cremello Warmblood: ROF Broodmares
                                  River Oaks Farm - home of the Elite Book Friesian Sporthorse Grand Prix dressage stallion Lexington - sire of four consecutive FSA National Inspection Champions. Endorsing the FSA.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by pinecone View Post
                                    I wouldn't have guessed so expensive! But with the OP also wanting a certain color (I'm guessing a rare one so these mares won't be a dime a dozen to buy or buy embryos from) maybe its about right.

                                    OP I'm curious, can you share the color and breed youre hoping for if it were hypothetically possible to buy an embryo?

                                    I think they're talking about total cost of creating that embryo + a small profit.

                                    The mare owner bought the stud fee and paid vet bills. I was told to budget 5k for embryo transfer after buying the semen. So you're only talking a 1-3k profit to the mare owner based on those prices. And remember, the mare owner may have had to have tried more than once for one embryo. ???
                                    Fresh, Frozen & ISO Warmblood Breedings FB Group

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