News release: Reproduction project marks major advancement in Ontario goat genetics

Guelph ON, November 6, 2012 ‐ Goat reproduction in Ontario has marked a major milestone with the introduction of new, non ‐ surgical embryo transfer techniques. For the first time, fertilized goat embryos have been collected trans‐cervically – without the use of surgical intervention – in Ontario. Veterinarian Dr. Kelly Barratt and her team from Heartland Veterinary Services in Listowel collected five embryos from three different donors for transfer. Pregnancy in the recipient does will be confirmed by ultra sound at the end of this month.

“This is the first time, to our knowledge, that this technology has been used successfully in Ontario,” says Jennifer Haley, Executive Director of Ontario Goat, the organization leading the project. “This technology, ultimately, will save goat producers money, improve animal welfare and offer new opportunities for sales of goat genetics.”

Current goat embryo transfer technology is cost prohibitive because the procedure requires both anaesthesia and invasive surgery techniques that can leave adhesions and reduce the reproductive life of a doe. The non‐surgical procedure is similar to one used in cattle, and allows farmers to increase the number of offspring that a doe can produce in a given year and over her reproductive lifetime.

Resulting offspring have the potential to carry superior genetic traits, such as increased weight gain, improved carcass merit and quality, and increased milk production.

sing embryos instead of live animals in genetic improvement also strengthens on‐farm biosecurity by reducing the risk of direct disease transmission between herds. “

With this new technology, goat farmers can rapidly and effectively improve their herd genetics, but with less stress on the animals and at a lower cost than what is currently available,” says Dr. Barratt. “The development of trans ‐ cervical embryo collection and transfer techniques in goats is still in its infancy, but this success marks a major step forward for the Ontario goat industry.”

As part of a larger goat reproduction and producer education initiative, Ontario Goat has been working with Brazilian experts in trans‐cervical embryo collection and transfer to run on‐farm trials and train Dr. Barratt, with the goal of both improving Canadian goat genetics and starting to build domestic and international markets for goat embryos.

“This project and the exciting results we are seeing are part of Ontario Goat’s commitment to looking at the long term strategic vision for the Ontario goat industry,” adds Haley. “We recognize that some producers may not be ready to use this technology, but as our industry continues its rapid development, these cutting edge tools will keep the Ontario goat industry at the forefront.”

Funding for this project is provided by the Farm Innovation Program. FIP is part of Growing Forward, a federal ‐ provincial ‐ territorial initiative. The Agricultural Adaptation Council assists in the delivery of several Growing Forward programs in Ontario.

Ontario Goat represents Ontario’s milk, meat and fibre goat farmers with a united voice and is dedicated to enhancing the goat industry through education, collaboration, innovation and strategic alliances. For more information, visit

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For more information please contact: Jennifer Haley, Executive Director, (519) 824 ‐ 2942 or

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