Embryo transfer is one step in the process of removing one or more embryos from the reproductive tract of donor females (valuable females) and transferring them to one or more recipient females (low value females). But the actual transfer of an embryo is only one step in a series of processes that may include some or all of the following: superovulation and insemination of donors, collection of embryos, isolation, evaluation and short-term storage of embryos, micromanipulation and genetic testing of embryos, freezing of embryos, receptor synchronisation and embryo transfer. This powerful reproductive technique was successfully accomplished for the first time by Walter Heape in 1890, starting as a research tool and becoming a commercial enterprise in cattle in the early 1970s.
In the case of South American Camelids (SAC), the first experience in ET was conducted in Peru in 1968 by Novoa and Sumar. Later, other researchers reported successful experiences in llamas and alpacas (Sumar and Franco, 1974; Wilson and Chapman, 1985; Palomino et al . 1987; Palomino, 1992; Palomino and Gomez, 1993; Palomino et al , 1996; Palomino, 1998; Bourke et al . 1992; Gatica et al . 1994; Taylor et al . 2000; Huanca et al . 2005). This area of research has been productive over the last 5 years in Peru, Argentina, Chile and North America. Regrettably, in the case of research conducted in Peru, none of these theses have been published in journals. Nevertheless, there are few private enterprises in South America that are routinely conducting ET in alpacas and llamas.
How to superovulate SAC is not a secret. Many references are available in scientific journals (Sumar and Franco, 1974; Palomino et al. 1987; Bourke et al. 1992; Sumar, 1993; Bourke et al. 1994; Correa et al. 1994; Bravo et al. 1995; Ratto et al. 1997; Velasquez and Novoa, 1999; Novoa et al. 1999; Aller et al. 1999 and others) and also theses in Peru. Research is being conducted at the moment to optimise the yield and quality of embryos.
We are currently testing several protocols to improve superovulatory response in alpacas using the application of FSH and LH and also the addition of progesterone/ progestagens in our experimental animals. Results so far are satisfactory but our objective is to simplify the technique and maximise the superovulatory response, thereby reducing the cost of the process.