Frequently Asked Questions

For a number of reasons, there is often value in creating offspring from donors at as young an age as possible. While we would prefer to wait until at least 10 months of age before collecting oocytes from a donor, work can be scheduled earlier at the owner's request as long as the donor is physically mature enough to do so. Clients must be aware of the fact that results are much more variable with very young heifers, and production will often not meet our overall system averages. Young donors should also be examined by a Trans Ova Genetics veterinarian before beginning work to determine if they are physically able to be aspirated.
A cloned animal is a genetic twin to an existing animal, just born at a later place in time.
Through the cloning process, progressive producers can duplicate the animals that contribute the most value in their herds and forward their goals to produce more efficient, healthier animals, and better-quality food products. The influence of these animals, through breeding, can help create a more consistent supply of tender, flavorful beef, for example. Another example of a cloning application is in the case of an animal lost early in its breeding career due to death or injury; perhaps even before the value of its genetics were fully discovered. Cloning technology can also help extend an elite animal’s genetic influence to contribute to the improvement of food animal production, by increasing embryo or semen production through cloned animals. And cloning provides a unique opportunity for clients with superior castrated males (steers, barrows, and wethers) to produce an intact cloned male, for breeding purposes.
An elite animal, the genetic donor, provides a tissue sample that will be cultured into a cell line or Genetic Preservation (GP). These cells will be cryopreserved or frozen until they are used in the cloning process later. The tissue sample may come from the ear or tail of the genetic donor animal. An economical alternative, an Express Tissue Bank (ETB), is provided for those producers who wish to preserve many samples or simply are not certain they will move forward with the cloning process. In this program, the tissue sample is frozen intact. Ultimately, an ETB must be cultured into a GP, or cell line, if the client desires to clone later.
You can place an order for a Genetic Preservation, Express Tissue Bank, or a cloning agreement by simply calling 1-800-999-3586 Ext 3104 for Diane Broek. An order can also be placed through your Trans Ova Genetics customer service representative.

The word ͞cloning͟ is simply a term to describe Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer (SCNT). Once cells are produced from the tissue sample provided by a genetic donor, they are combined with an enucleated oocyte (unfertile egg with the nucleus removed) and fused together using a process called electrofusion. The resulting embryos are cultured and transferred into recipient mothers within one week, with variation per species. ͞Dolly the Sheep was the first mammal to be produced using SCNT cloning technology more than 20 years ago.

For more than 38 years, Trans Ova Genetics has been working closely with cattle breeders on advanced reproductive technologies. That involves more than 16 years of experience with cloning technologies and encompasses thousands of cloned animals.
As with all advanced reproductive technologies, cloning is part of a carefully planned and implemented genetic advancement program, uniquely defined to achieve individual client goals. For clients that have animals at the elite genetics level and marketing caliber for cloning, Trans Ova Genetics has dedicated their trained, professional team specialists to ensure the best possible care through the entire process.
Yes, Trans Ova now offers services for small ruminants.
In the cloning process, the animal produced using cloning technology will carry a nuclear genome (DNA) that is a genetic match to the genetic donor animal. In other words, nuclear genotypes (as produced for breed registry DNA genotyping) of the cloned animal will be the same as the genetic donor that provided the tissue sample to produce the cell line or Genetic Preservation. If you are cloning a breed that utilizes genomic evaluations, the genomics of the cloned animal will also be the same as the genetic donor.
In January 2008, the FDA released their Final Risk Assessment that stated that the products from cloned animals and their offspring are safe, that there is no difference in food produced from cloned animals and their offspring, thus there is no reason to require labeling on all products. The offspring of cloned animals are conventionally bred and are not cloned animals themselves.
A cloned animal is simply an animal produced using cloning technology, which is an assisted reproductive technology like AI (artificial insemination), ET (embryo transfer) or IVF (in vitro fertilization). There is not a specific test to determine or label an animal as a cloned animal since they have not had any genes or markers added or genes deleted. They are a genetic match to the genetic donor who was selected because of her/his elite status. Cloning technology is often used to make an irreplaceable animal….replaceable.
Yes, it is safe to eat a clone. In January 2008, the FDA released their Final Risk Assessment that stated that the products from cloned animals and their offspring are safe, that there is no difference in food produced from cloned animals and their offspring, thus there is no reason to require labeling on all products.
The word “cloning” is simply a term to describe Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer (SCNT). Once cells are produced from the tissue sample provided by a genetic donor, they are combined with an enucleated oocyte (unfertile egg with the nucleus removed) and fused together using a process called electrofusion. The resulting embryos are cultured and transferred into recipient mothers within one week, with variation per species. “Dolly the Sheep” was the first mammal to be produced using SCNT cloning technology more than 20 years ago.
Adult animals are the result of G x E (genetics x environment). When we produce a cloned animal we will make a genetic match to the genetic component but we cannot possibly mimic all of the environmental influences that have exerted influence on that genotype though the years. The personality of an animal is certainly influenced by life experiences but it would be unrealistic to expect that a cloned animal will have exactly the same personality as the original genetic donor. That being said, we often hear about clients who marvel at how closely the cloned animals will exhibit behavior or actions very similar to the genetic donor, although they never met each other.
The cost to produce a genetic twin, using cloning technology, can vary with the volume of animals produced. In general, bovine cloning will start at approximately $20,000 per cloned calf and go down with volume. This does include the production costs related to the entire process, including cloned embryo production and recipient mother care, as well as the clone calf.
Good-quality IVF embryos may be frozen with very acceptable results. Pregnancy rates from frozen IVF embryos in Trans Ova recipients have averaged 45-50%. If clients would like to freeze IVF embryos, Trans Ova will be very selective on the quality of embryos that are frozen. Embryos that do not qualify for freezing should be transferred fresh or discarded.
Oocytes can be collected every other week as long as the attending veterinarian believes this is best for the donor. This fact makes it possible to create a significant number of pregnancies in a given period of time.
IVF embryos will be frozen with one of two methods: 10% glycerol or direct-thaw. Our data indicates that clients can expect very similar results with both freezing methods. Clients should visit with their client service representative about embryo freezing options before the work is performed.
On average, we expect fresh IVF embryos to achieve about a 45-50% pregnancy rate. This will vary somewhat depending on the time of year, type of recipient, and recipient management.
While reproductively sound donors are most likely to achieve success in IVF, we have worked with donors with a variety of reproductive conditions, including those unable to achieve success in conventional ET. Donors that tend to make unfertilized or degenerate embryos are a common type with which we have had success. Many clients also appreciate the ability to create embryos from pregnant donors and younger heifers with IVF.
Frozen semen is thawed, and our semen sorter is utilized to separate the female and male sperm cells. We call this process “reverse-sorting”, because the sorting occurs after the semen has been previously frozen. The sorted semen of the desired gender is then used to fertilize the oocytes collected from donors. This process generally requires a minimum of two units of semen for a given sire.
Based on fetal-sexing of pregnancies that result from reverse-sorted semen, we achieve greater than 95% accuracy of selecting for female calves (slightly less for male calves). Although most sires will sort accurately, the process can be affected by semen quality and concentration. There is often significant variation among sires in fertility and embryo development rates.
Results vary with each donor, but we typically expect to collect ~18 oocytes per aspiration. On average, 30% of these oocytes will develop into a viable embryo. Thus, we expect about 5 transferrable (Grade 1 & 2) embryos per IVF cycle on average. Donors that produce greater numbers of oocytes and oocytes of higher quality may see larger numbers of embryos produced, whereas donors with compromised reproductive conditions may have lower results. Development rate will also vary greatly depending on the sire used.
On a given sire, the development rate between conventional and reverse-sorted semen is generally very similar. However, we do see a significant decrease in development rate with pre-sexed frozen semen compared to reverse-sorted semen with many bulls. Thus, our recommendation for clients wanting to produce sexed embryos is to use reverse-sorted semen.
The general window for creating embryos from pregnant donors is 40 to 100 days of pregnancy. A large percentage of our IVF program is composed of pregnant donors that take advantage of this extended window for creating offspring. While the procedure is quite safe, clients should be aware that there is a slight risk of pregnancy loss from the manipulation of the reproductive organs.

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