Export of Genetic Material To The United States


Dear Members

Quite often the Society receives requests from the US for export of genetic material from our UK Registered sheep. Karen Seo, one of our overseas members began an up-breeding program quite some time ago in the US recently contacted us again, so I asked if she would provide some information on the process to share with our Members…

“I am working with Geraint Thomas, from Animal Breeding Europe (https://www.abreeds.co.uk). AB Europe will manage the entire embryo and semen collection process — initial screening, tests, paperwork, collection and freezing, etc. The initial screening will be done at the originating farm to determine if the sheep is suitable for embryo or semen collection. All other steps will be done at one of their facilities in Malvern where there are staff to care for the animals, do the tests, and collect the embryos or semen. If seller/owner cannot bring the sheep to the centre, AB Europe can assist in arranging transportation. 

Screening — To qualify for collection of semen or embryos, the sheep

  • Must have been in the national herd for a minimum of 90 days pre-collection.
  • Must pass 2 screening tests (require a blood sample) — genotype (3 codon) and Schmallenberg virus.

Embryo collection — the process takes about 100 days:

1     enter isolation
34    take blood sample for several tests, administer TB intradermal, give clinical exam
37    read TB test response
55    artificial insemination (done laparoscopically), health check
61    embryo collection + health check
79    optional 2nd artificial insemination
85    optional 2nd embryo collection
97    repeat tests done on day 34 + blue tongue virus test
100   read TB test response
101   leave isolation

This process also involves use of hormones to synchronize ovulation cycle with artificial insemination and to increase number of eggs released. Collection of embryos is done by a small surgical procedure to enable collecting the fertilized ova and takes 20-30 minutes. 
Semen collection — the process takes about 100 days. The same isolation, tests and health checks are done as with embryo collection and on roughly the same schedule, with semen collection occurring in place of the artificial insemination and embryo collection. No hormones or surgery are involved”

If you would like more information Karen can be contacted at: kseo@alum.mit.edu

Anna Kelly, March 2024

Export of Genetic Material To The United States