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Reproductive Technologies For Animals In Agriculture

1040 words - 4 pages

As the years pass by, research is continually uncovering new methods to improve efficiency of domestic breeding programs for commercially farmed animals. Within every one of these methods there are advantages, disadvantages, limitations and ethical issues which must be investigated and addressed. Still, with the use of these realised technologies, there have been significant advances already, that indicate a more genetically focused, and technology based farming life for future years. Procedures including Embryo Transfer (ET) and Artificial Insemination (AI) are already being employed, with widespread use on commercial cattle properties. While at the same time, technologies such as Cloning, and Genetic Engineering although seemingly already developed to some degree, are just the tip of the iceburg as researchers strive to create a genetically perfect, nation wide, breeding program for cattle, pigs, sheep, goats and poultry.

Artificial Insemination and Embryo Transfer are technologies that are often used in conjuncion on Australian farms, most often in the dairy industry, but also with beef cattle and occasionally sheep. (Brown.L et al, 2001) defined Artificial Insemination as the act of using instruments to deposit semen in the female reproductive tract with the aim of acheiving pregnancy. This procedure can then be elaborated on through the use of Embryo Transfer which involves the superovulation of the donor cow through the use of hormones prior to the AI procedure being excecuted, followed by a flushing of partially developed embryos 7 days later through the use of a foley catheter. These embryos are then either frozen for storage or implanted into surrogate cows after the syncronisation of their oestrus cycles with the doner using a Progesterone Releasing Intra-uterine Device or P.R.I.D. The ET procedure has many advantages over natural joining, these include :
? The higher frequency use of superior mothers.
? The safe freezing of embryos for later use.
? Easier transportation of superior genetics.
? The ability to split and sex embryos to determine their value to a particular cause.

Some downsides to ET include:
? The cost associated with ET compared to natural joining.
? The sophisticated storage methods required, which can also be expensive.
? Again, the expense involved in hiring a professional to sex and/or split embryos.

AI is also a benificial technology, with many advantages:
? The introduction of other bulls, including those from overseas, into a heard without the hefty price of purchasing.
? Cheaper crossbreading programs without the expense of housing many different breeds of bull.
? More accurate progeny testing and sire selection which eliminates the need for genetic paternity testing.
? The prevention and possibal eventual eradication of venereal diseases.

Like every technology though, compared to natural joining, AI has disadvantages such as:
? The inconvenience of taking time to artificially...

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