Current Status ofIn VitroEmbryo Production in Sheep and Goats

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ContentsSheep and goat production is an important economic activity in Spain with an increasing interest in milk production. Multiovulation and Embryo Transfer (MOET) and In vitro Embryo Production (IVEP) are assisted reproductive technologies aimed at increasing the genetic diffusion of females. In vitro embryo production is a multi-step methodology comprising the following procedures: (i) In vitro Maturation (IVM) of oocytes recovered directly from the follicles, (ii) In vitro Fertilization (IVF) or co-incubation of capacitated spermatozoa with in vitro matured oocytes and (iii) In vitro culture (IVC) of zygotes up to the blastocyst stage. In vitro embryo production from oocytes recovered from prepubertal females is called JIVET (Juvenile in vitro Embryo Transfer) and allows shortened generation intervals and increased genetic gain. Embryo production together with embryo cryoconservation would allow large-scale embryo marketing, a pathogen-free genetic movement and easier and cheaper germplasm commercial transactions. Commercial Embryo activity in small ruminants is low compared to cows in the European Union (data from the European Embryo Transfer Association) and in the world (data from the International Embryo Transfer Association). There is less IVEP research in small ruminants compared to other livestock species. The aim of this review was to provide an overview of the current status of IVEP of small ruminant with an emphasis on (i) description of the main methodologies currently used for IVM, IVF and IVC of embryos (ii) comparing procedures and outputs from JIVET and IVEP of adult females and (iii) the future research perspectives of this technology.

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