Developing Reproductive Biotechnologies
The development of artificial reproductive biotechnologies in ruminants has provided the needed tools for the increased production of food species, enhanced reproductive efficiency, the development of unique animal models through transgenics and cloning and the preservation of superior genetics and endangered species. The story of reproductive biotechnological research in ruminants has been primarily preceded by development of these technologies in rodent species. While the goat provides the largest source of animal protein, following seafood, to peoples of the world, research into the improvement of artificial reproductive biotechnologies in the goat has lagged behind the other major ruminants of agricultural significance. Cryopreservation of sperm, artificial insemination and embryo transfer have been used in the goat to increase the rate of genetic improvement, allow access to and the movement of genetics from superior sires and dams, control the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, and provide continued use of superior sires in the event of an unexpected loss or long after their productive life. The application of cryopreservation of goat sperm and its subsequent use in artificial insemination programs has not seen widespread use in the commercial goat industry. The practice of semen collection, processing and cryopreservation are known to have detrimental effects that reduce the quality and fertility of the goat sperm cells. The timing of artificial insemination, embryo transfer and embryo implantation are severely hampered by the poorly understood problem of early regression of the corpus luteum (CL) in the goat. Studies are, currently, being conducted at the International Goat Research Center (IGRC) to develop technologies to improve the production of high quality cryopreserved goat semen, refine techniques to predict bucks of high fertility, understand the loss of early pregnancy related to the early regressing CL and the production of animal models.