Laparoscopic Ovum Pick-Up Followed by In Vitro Embryo Production and Transfer in Assisted Breeding Programs for Ruminants
Department of Animal Science, McGill University, Montreal, QC H3A 0G4, Canada
Received: 18 December 2020
Revised: 7 January 2021
Accepted: 13 January 2021
Published: 17 January 2021
In vitro embryo production from oocytes collected by laparoscopy has the potential of producing more offspring from genetically superior females of ruminant species (e.g., sheep, goats, cervids) or ages (e.g., prepubertal cattle and buffalo) that are too small to be eligible for oocyte collection by the transvaginal ultrasound-guided method used in cows. This article reviews the multiple applications of the technology, how it is done, the pros and cons, the limitations to widespread use, and the envisioned improvements that are expected in the years to come. In small ruminants, where conventional embryo recovery is most commonly done by surgery, the technology offers a less invasive approach, i.e., more animal welfare-friendly and with minimum risks of surgical sequels. Thereby, it enables repeating the procedure in the same animals exponentially more times, resulting in the potential for an increased number of offspring born from elite donors. Furthermore, the emerging most attractive application is for the in vitro production of embryos from prepubertal animals at very young ages, which allows having progeny born from genetically superior donors before they reach the age and weight to be bred for the first time.