WASLEYS has welcomed a new lamb, believed to be the first of its type in the world.
Little ‘Jivet’ is so called be- cause of how he came into this world – through the process of juvenile in vitro embryo transfer (JIVET).
The ram lamb’s owners, Nette and Troy Fischer, of Ashmore White Suffolks, in Wasleys, have been using JIVET to speed up the rate of genetic gain in their Suffolk stud for a couple of years, but until now have only been successful with fresh embryo transfers.
Jivet was their first lamb to be successfully developed and born from a frozen embryo, and was a result of a joint project between Ashmore White Suffolks, the University of Adelaide, the South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI), and Dr Simon Walker, who was involved in the breeding of Matilda, Australia’s first cloned sheep.
Mrs Fischer said, while JIVET technology, which involves collecting eggs from eight-week-old ewes, has been around for a while, researchers were interested in furthering their knowledge of the technology on sheep more bred for meat, with the opportunity to freeze embryos arising unexpectedly.
“Normally, when the embryo is fresh you then implant it into a surrogate, but we had so many and it was so successful that we didn’t have enough surrogate mothers, or recipients, and so we decided to freeze some,” she said.
“People have done JIVET before in sheep, but that next step of freezing some of the healthy embryos has never been done before.
“Then, they were thawed, and we implanted them, and this lamb was the first one to take and then be born.”
The JIVET lamb has a growth rate of +20, meaning he will be 20 kilograms heavier than average, post-weaning, as well as has a high lamb eating quality index of 154 to make him tender.
Mrs Fischer said it was exciting being able to pioneer research, but said further research is needed in being able to get frozen and then thawed embryos to successfully implant into the ewes.
“Going forward we will continue to use the latest reproductive technology, like JIVET, to ensure our sheep are improving as fast as possible,” she said.
“This project proves that you can successfully freeze, thaw and implant JIVET embryos, which has, to our knowledge, never been done before.”