An efficient method of ovarian stimulation and in vitro embryo production from prepubertal lambs

K. M. Morton, S. L. Catt, W. M.C. Maxwell, G. Evans

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The production of embryos from prepubertal lambs is inefficient, partly resulting from the low developmental competence of prepubertal lamb oocytes, and partly because a high proportion of lambs fail to respond to hormone stimulation. The development of a hormone stimulation regimen that all lambs respond to would increase the efficiency of breeding from prepubertal animals. Using a hormone stimulation regimen consisting of oestradiol benzoate (50 μg), a norgestomet implant (1.5 mg), pregnant mare serum gonadotrophin (400 IU) and follicle stimulating hormone (130 mg) all lambs (n = 19) responded to hormone stimulation. Uterine and ovarian weight ranged from 2.8 to 7.2 g (11.8 ± 0.7 g) and from 1.7 to 54.1 (12.5 ± 2.9 g), respectively. The number of ovarian follicles and oocytes recovered ranged from 20.0 to 500.0 (118.2 ± 29.2) and from 13.0 to 455.0 (82.0 ± 24.2), respectively, and oocytes suitable for in vitro production were obtained from all 19 lambs. Uterine weight was related to both bodyweight and growth rate (P < 0.05), although ovarian weight and the number of ovarian follicles were not related to either bodyweight or growth rate. Oocyte cleavage varied between hormone-stimulated lambs (0.0-93.0%; P < 0.05), and 484/775 (62.2%) of the oocytes cultured cleaved. Oocytes from 17 of the 19 lambs (89.5%) developed to the blastocyst stage in vitro, and the proportion of zygotes forming a blastocyst (by Day 7) ranged from 0.0 to 66.7% for individual lambs. Overall, 33.9% of zygotes (n = 164) developed to the blastocyst stage, producing 8.6 ± 2.8 blastocysts per lamb.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)701-706
Number of pages6
JournalReproduction, Fertility and Development
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Embryo
  • Juvenile
  • Oocyte
  • Superovulation

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