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Artificial breeding

Artificial Insemination (AI) and Embryo Transfer (ET) are well-established, viable and practical tools to improve rates of genetic gain within the NZ deer farming industry. This has been clearly demonstrated with considerable production gains to date in antler size and high growth rate. While the success rates in red deer are comparable to, or better than other farm animal species, careful planning and execution are required to optimise success.

The use of a sire for natural mating is limited by the inability of the stag to mate with many hinds (see Mating Management), and the physical restriction to one farm for the mating season. AI overcomes these limitations by distributing a stag’s semen over a wider number of hinds and across multiple farms.

Artificial insemination overview
Stag and sire selection
Facilities and management
Oestrus synchronisation
Insemination and scanning
Semen collection

More resources

Asher, G. W., Berg, D.K., Evans, G. (2000) Storage of semen and artificial insemination in deer >>

Fennessy, P.F. (1993) Artificial breeding in the New Zealand deer industry: genetic aspects >>

Asher, G. W., Dixon, T.E. (1994) Development of AI and ET of farmed deer >>  

Wenkoff, M (2012) Maximise your Artificial Insemination Results (Elk/Wapiti) >>

An article outlining the Application and benefits of different pregnancy scanning techniques. G Asher. Deer Industry News (2003)

Lawrence, D.W., Linney, L. (1998) Utilising data from ultrasound scanning for pregnancy NZVA Deer Branch Conf. Proceedings Vol15/61-64

Shackell, G.H. (1989) Semen evaluation, handling and thawing. Proceedings of a Deer Course for Veterinarians. Deer Branch NZVA. 6: 14-20.

Asher, G.W., Berg, D.K., Evans, G. (2000) Semen collection and AI in deer 

Asher, G. W., Berg, D.K., Evans, G. (2000) Storage of semen and artificial insemination in deer. Animal Reproduction Science 62: 195-211.

Deer farmers use multiple ovulation and embryo transfer (MOET) to maximise the numbers of offspring from genetically elite hinds and stags. It is based on the production of multiple high-merit embryos from each ‘donor’ hind but uses low merit ‘recipient’ hinds as surrogate mothers.

Naturally, hinds produce a single calf annually from a single ovulation event. However, treatment of hinds with various reproductive hormones (principally FSH and eCG) can induce multiple ovulations at time of mating or insemination. Although the hind cannot gestate all the resulting embryos, they can be physically removed from the donor hind and transferred individually into synchronised recipient hinds to be gestated and reared. Thus, it is possible within one season for an elite hind to generate multiple progeny.

What is MOET?
Donor and recipient selection
Multiple ovulation and embryo recovery
Embryo transfer and scanning
Foetal wastage

More resources

Fennessy, P.F., Fisher, M.W., Shackell, G.H., Mackintosh, C.G. (1989) Superovulation and embryo recovery in red deer (Cervus elaphus) hinds. Theriogenology 32: 877-883.

Fennessy, P.F., Asher, G.W., Beatson, N.S., Dixon, T.E., Hunter, J.W., Bringans, M.J. (1994) Embryo transfer in deer. Theriogenology 41: 133-138.

Asher, G.W., O’Neill, K.T., Scott, I.C., Mockett, B.G., Pearse, A.J. (2000) Genetic influences on reproduction of female red deer (Cervus elaphus). (2) Seasonal and genetic effects on the superovulatory response to exogenous FSH. Animal Reproduction Science 59: 61-70.

Asher, G.W., Wilson, P.R. (2011) Reproductive productivity of farmed red deer: a review. Proceedings of a Deer Course for Veterinarians. Deer Branch NZVA 28: 23-29.

Information on A successful pregnancy: preventing foetal losses is available in a convenient DINZ Deer Fact sheet (August 2017). Download your own copy here >>

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