Vijay, the country’s first calf delivered by a surrogate or recipient cow through In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) technology carried out in a mobile laboratory was born on early Sunday morning 20 August 2017 in Pune. While a similar experiment was carried out about five years ago by the National Dairy Research Institute at the lab-level, this is the first time that the procedure was successfully implemented at a farm, with the help of a mobile laboratory.
In human beings, IVF technology is brought as a solution when either of the couple is infertile, in the case of cows, the objective is to protect the breed in its original form. The IVF technology here is aimed at promoting genetically superior indigenous cattle breeds, which have been destroyed due to cross-breeding. The oocytes, or immature eggs, of the donor cow were collected from Rachana Cow Farm, owned by a Pathan family. The donor cow, Ratan, belongs to the Gir breed, whose population across the country is around one lakh currently unevenly spread across Gujarat, Rajasthan and Maharashtra. On an average, it gives 10-12 litres of milk daily.
The oocytes were kept in a special incubator, which worked as an artificial uterus, for nearly 24 hours. Semen was collected and the process of fertilisation began in a petridish inside the incubator, at a temperature of 38.5 degree centigrade. The aim is to take the technology to the farmer. The entire procedure is carried out in front of the farmer, with mobile IVF lab. Meanwhile, After seven days, the oocytes developed into an embryo, which was transferred to the recipient cow.
In its lifetime which is 15 years to be average, a cow gives birth to 10 calves at the most. Through IVF technology, it can give birth to 20 calves in a year through recipient cows, which means nearly 200 in its lifetime. About 50 embryos can be produced by a donor cow in a year. The success rate of IVF technology in cows is 40 per cent and the procedure can be done on the donor cow at least 10-12 times in a year.