Cryopreservation of embryos as a means of germ plasm conservation in sheep

H. Sakul, G. E. Bradford, Robert Bondurant, G. B. Anderson, S. E. Donahue

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Embryos were collected from 4 lines of Targhee sheep between 1986 and 1990. The lines were selected for preweaning growth rate (Lines DH and HW) or for multiple births (Line HT); Line C served as an unselected control group. Estrus was synchronized using fluorogestone acetate-impregnated vaginal pessaries, and ewes were superovulated with FSH. Embryos at the morula or blastocyst stage were surgically recovered from mature ewes at Days 5 to 6 and were frozen following morphological evaluation. The overall average number of freezable embryos per collection was 2.9, and did not differ significantly among years or among lines. Of the embryos collected between 1986 and 1988, 92 were transferred to 53 recipients in 1989, producing 53 lambs. Survival rates were 60.9 and 47.8%, respectively, for embryos evaluated as good and fair after thawing. Good-quality blastocysts yielded the highest survival rate (64.4%). Analyses indicated no significant effects of line, developmental stage or embryo evaluation on the incidence of lambing. It was concluded that embryos of morula or blastocyst stage can be successfully frozen for extended periods. The data on embryo yield and survival following cryopreservation were used to calculate numbers of donors needed to preserve and reconstitute a population of specified size.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)401-409
Number of pages9
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 1 1993
Externally publishedYes


  • cryopreservation
  • embryo transfer
  • sheep

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Small Animals
  • Food Animals
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Equine


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