Fiji successfully executes first cattle embryo transfer
30 September, 2018, 3:07 pm
FIJI’S first embryo transfer program on cattle has been marked a success following the birth of calves or calving stage at the Ministry of Agriculture’s Sigatoka Research Station.
Minister for Agriculture and Rural and Maritime Development Inia Seruiratu said the ministry had collaborated with Australian Reproductive Technologies to improve the dairy and beef industry.
He said this was the first time ever for Fiji to trial and implement embryo transfer technology.
“… It is a historic achievement for the ministry as we have witnessed the next stage of the program with the birth of these calves and I acknowledge the tremendous work and technical contributions of Australian Reproductive Technologies in improving Fiji’s dairy and beef industry,” Mr Seruiratu said.
Australian Reproductive Technologies managing director. Simon Walton said the result of the embryo transfer would boost the industry.
“Discussions and consultations were made with the Ministry of Agriculture on ways to improve the beef and dairy industry and consultations with local farmers on what they wanted. We decided to bring in frozen embryos from Australia and transfer it to local cattle in December last year and they are calving now,” Mr Walton was quoted saying in the Government statement.
“There are 40 calves now and still some more to come, and we have already transferred a second lot of embryos and we will be back in the next few years to replicate this,” Mr Walton said.
“When these calves start to get bigger, then we will make embryos from them and expand the herd across Fiji and when we take the embryo from this one, we make hundreds of embryos in a year and transfer them into many cattle so one cattle can have many calves in a year.
“They are a mixed breed, we take the embryos and put them into these cattle and their genetics is not represented in the babies at all, they are completely different from mother and father.”
The program has identified the Senepol cattle for beef breeds after having demonstrated a number of desirable commercial traits and is also climate resilient while the Brown Swiss cattle has been identified for dairy, due to its high volume and quality milk production.
Similarly, the use of biotechnology such as embryo transfer technology includes the development of nucleus herds for both beef and dairy industry in Fiji.
“What we have done through the Ministry of Agriculture is start a nucleus herd of these very elite high producing animals and as we move into the future we will try and train Fijian staff to apply the technology that we have in Australia so you can multiply the nucleus that you have here and then expand them across Fiji,” Mr Walton said.
Through the program, tracking devices using satellite on calves in the case of stray animals and theft has been introduced to keep track of the animals’ location.