Effect of variation in embryo stage on the establishment of pregnancy, and embryo survival and growth in ewes with two embryos

in Reproduction

Summary. Embryos at different stages of development were transferred to recipient ewes on Day 6 to investigate the effect of variation in stage of development on embryo survival and growth. Three groups of ewes received 2 embryos that were at the same stage of development, Day 4, Day 6 or Day 8. A fourth group received 1 Day-4 and 1 Day-8 embryo. At autopsy on recipient Day 34 there were no significant differences in embryo survival (Day 4, 34%; Day 6, 50%; Day 8, 46%; and Day 4 and 8, 48%). Fetuses developing from Day-8 embryos were heavier than others (Day 4, 1·10 ± 0·06 g; Day 6, 1·15 ± 0·06 g; Day 8, 1·41 ± 0·08 g; P < 0·05). In Group 4 neither survival nor growth of embryos was significantly affected by the presence of an embryo at a different stage of development.

The ability of the uterus to stimulate development of a relatively retarded embryo is confirmed. Apparently the uterus has less effect in slowing the development of advanced embryos.

Keywords: embryo transfer; embryo survival; embryo growth; sheep

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