Progestin implants can rescue demi-embryo pregnancies in goats: A case study

D. M. Beckett, S. M. Oppenheim, A. L. Moyer, Robert Bondurant, Joan D Rowe, G. B. Andersen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Survival after transfer of demi-embryos (i.e., half-embryos produced by embryo splitting) to recipients usually is lower than survival after transfer of intact embryos. Reduced survival after demi-embryo transfer could be due to loss of viability after splitting, failure of a viable demi-embryo to prevent corpus luteum (CL) regression in the recipient female, or a combination of factors. From a retrospective analysis of pregnancy and embryo survival rates after demi-embryo transfer in sheep and goats, we report the rescue of caprine demi-embryo pregnancies in which CL regression occurred at the end of diestrus despite the presence of a viable conceptus in the uterus with progestin implants. Day 5 or 6 morulae and blastocysts were flushed from superovulated ewes and does and split into demi-embryos of approximately equal halves. Demi-embryos were either transferred flesh to synchronized recipients of the homologous species or frozen in liquid nitrogen. Approximately half of the recipient does and ewes were treated with norgestomet implants on Day 10 of the embryo transfer cycle and again 2 wk later. Serum collected on Day 25 from recipients with implants was assayed for progesterone to determine if a CL of pregnancy had been maintained. Pregnancy was diagnosed by ultrasonography on Day 35 of gestation. Corpus luteum regression occurred despite the presence of a viable conceptus in the uterus in 6 of 55 progestin-treated caprine demi-embryo recipients and in 0 of 66 ovine demi-embryo recipients. Five of the caprine pregnancies were maintained to term with norgestomet implants and produced 5 live kids. The sixth fetus, which was carded by a progestin implant-treated 8-mo-old doeling, died at approximately 50 d of gestation. These results suggest that, at least in goats, some demi-embryos may provide inadequate signaling for maternal recognition of pregnancy, and such pregnancies can be rescued with progestin treatment to the doe.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1505-1511
Number of pages7
Issue number8
StatePublished - Jun 1999


  • Demi-embryos
  • Goat
  • Progestin implants
  • Sheep

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • veterinary(all)


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