AI, embryos, YPERIOS crossbreeding, hornless: the quest for genetic progress with AURIVA-Elevage11 December 2023
A JOLLY donor!26 January 2024
As in many aspects of genetic selection, the arrival of genomics in Abondance a few years ago has enabled biotechnologies, and in particular embryo transfer (ET), to take a step forward. Whether as part of a scheme to offer you the best breeding stock or for private use, TE is a powerful tool for genetic progress. In this brochure, we give the floor to Franck Mariller, one of the key players in the field of TE in Abondance. A seasoned embryo transplant technician, he shares his experience with us.
Can you tell us about your background?
I started out as an inseminator in the Ain department. As I was just as interested in the reproductive side of things as I was in the mating side, even back then I was a “Bel Air Embryons” correspondent, making sure that the embryo donors got off to a good start. It’s fair to say that I’ve always had an attraction for this field; an attraction that has been confirmed by the fact that it’s now been 28 years since I fully specialized in embryo transfer.
In 28 years, everything has changed in TE?
Yes and no! The arrival of genomics in 2017 has boosted activity in Abondance, as techniques have evolved and been perfected. What hasn’t changed, however, is the very basis of our work, namely our relationships with breeders and teams. This is the most interesting and stimulating part.
The AURIVA teams have recently welcomed a number of new members who have given new impetus to collections, both in the field and at the creative level, and it’s very motivating to work alongside them.
As for contact with breeders, it’s quite simply the greatest motivation, but also the greatest challenge. We had to convince people in the field, popularize, explain, support and demystify, so that breeders would often “dare” to take the plunge and feel confident. Once they get the ball rolling, there’s no stopping them, especially when they give birth to a male for the program or a mother.
And how important is it for you to give birth to the catalog's future rock stars?
Yes, it’s always a real pleasure to have calves born that integrate the genetic offer in Abondance or other breeds. But I’d say that’s true of any birth.
The more calves we bring into the world, the more enthusiastic we become, and the closer we are to the team and the breeders:
This generates interaction at all levels, with breeders getting involved, attending technical meetings, breeding females that are genotyped whether they join the scheme or not. We allow breeders to auction off exceptional animals… Progress begets progress, so to speak, and it’s exciting to be part of this dynamic.
If we take auctions as an example, it really is a virtuous circle in which we “transplant” technicians are happy to play a part. The breeder or group of breeders invests in a female, often from TE, who may or may not be the “full sister” of an animal that has already distinguished itself, and who will herself be collected. This allows the breeder to have both an exceptional breeding animal and a beautiful
source of profitability, to win twice, as it were, while also helping the team to progress.
This year, 5 bulls from TE have joined the catalog. Would you say there are any special features in ABONDANCE?
There’s clearly a seasonal pattern, with more activity from November to February when the animals are indoors and the ration is well adjusted. After that, as with all breeds, what counts is the proper preparation of donors and recipients to maximize success.
Avoiding stress by moving, for example, monitoring heat, adapting and balancing feed, supplementing and being rigorous about health are, I’d say, the basic foundation.
Never hesitate to contact the team for information or advice. Our job is a technical one, but a large part of our work also involves accompanying breeders during collection or installation.
DOUBLING OF COLLECTIONS IN 10 YEARS
In ABONDANCE, we've seen collections double and even more in 10 years. Do you think we've reached a plateau?
No, I don’t think so. The various innovations and the confidence acquired over time have had a snowball effect. With genomics, the renewal of generations in the teams, the creation of the bank
embryos… there’s a real positive momentum.
There is unanimous agreement that the multiplication of strains of interest brings more choice, more variability and also more precision, and that the genetic offer is enriched year after year by bulls resulting from this strategy.
With genotyping and ET, we’re looking for heterosis: we’re working like goldsmiths, looking for the nugget that, when mated with another nugget, will give rise to an exceptional individual. And in this work, we technicians are a bit like the miners who extract and bring out the nugget!
A particularly striking animal in ABUNDANCE?
Yes ! MIGNONNE (bred at GAEC LA COUR, now at the Poisy breeding center), dam of RAYBAN distributed last year as a young sire, produced 80 embryos in 5 collections. In 2019, she is MAT qualified and produces 15 embryos with MUSH, including RAYBAN. She then qualified for MAF and produced 19 embryos with OTRAVERS in 2020, followed by 16 embryos with REGGAE and 9 with PRISME in 2022.
This year, for the AURIVA bank, it produced 21 embryos (!) for the 5 million sexed dose test. So she’s not only an excellent donor, but also a superb asset for the program and for collective genetic progress.
The AURIVA Biotech division, both in the lab and in the field, in association with the dairy and suckling genetics divisions, has always had the ambition of offering the very best services, and therefore constantly experimenting with new approaches. For example, we are currently testing a denser concentration of sexed semen to optimize results and produce “more and better” embryos, as previously mentioned with MIGNONNE. Beyond that, we’re continuing to raise awareness among breeders in the field, to offer attractive formulas and, of course, to train and perfect our methods.