Embryo Transfer Training

Today was the big day for implanting embryos. Unfortunately, they are still stuck in customs. We proceeded to Adami Tulu anyway, hoping that we would get the embryos in time.

We stopped along the road to buy four bags of the “boli” earth, dirt that is dug up around the edge of a very salty lake that is used as a mineral supplement for the animals. At Adami Tulu we brought the cows over into the corral and started working them. We selected the animals that had not shown visible heats and used them for teaching purposes. Dr. Kolste led out first, palpating the animals, then examining them with the ultrasound. Staff members were crowded tightly all around him as he worked, trying to see and learn from him. One of the veterinarians that has had a lot of experience with ultrasound worked with him.

After he froze a picture of an ovary on the screen, I took the machine away so that I could show the rest of them while Dr. Kolste was teaching how to implant the embryo. One PHD student from near Addis was the first to transfer the imitation embryo. He did really well with it. They rest of the morning we just moved animals through as we checked them. None of the animals that didn’t show heat had a functional CL on their ovaries. It is probably because the animals were so thin to start with and they are just not cycling.

The embryos were not released today, so we left and went to Wando Genet, to the research facility. The director of the dairy facility met us there. They have a rather large dairy of 34 cows that give 5-8 liters of milk/day. They graze the cows on pasture then bring them in and feed them corn silage. They also feed a bran-based concentrate to the cows when they milk them. They have four silage pits that they constantly rotate filling, storing and feeding. They chop the silage by hand because the blades on their chopper have worn out and they haven’t replaced them. They pack the pit using a tractor then cover the silage with plastic, dirt, then branches from the local thorn trees. When I asked about the branches he said they were to keep the monkeys out of the silage. A few minutes later we saw monkeys come in and start eating the corn from the pit that they were filling.

We stopped to take pictures as we were on our way to Wando Genet. Even though we were on the main road and there weren’t any houses close, it didn’t take long for about 20 children to gather. Soon some girls about 7 and 11 years old came walking up the road with their backs loaded with sticks. They were going up a long hill about 2-3 miles long. My heart went out to these two girls and I gave them each a little money.

The embryos are still in customs. We are praying that we can get them out by tomorrow morning or some of the recipients heifers will not work. We are learning a lot about working in Ethiopia, and the biggest thing is patience and contingency planning.