Professor Jan Bonsma, Pretoria, South Africa evaluating Texas Longhorn Donor cows at Dickinson Cattle Co. - 1986
Diversification and improvement of native genetics is now more cost effective than every before to cattle producers in any country. Twenty years ago live animals were transported by air or sea. Since 9/11 this type of transport is history, but it is replaced by shipment of embryos and semen.
The cost of shipping a light weight calf crated in 1990 was about $2 per pound by air. Today this rate is more like $8 per pound, if the countries approve live animal import. Today shipments can go around the globe at a cost per embryo (in an order of 50) as little as $40 each for freight--plus the cost of the embryo.
Professional breeders who desire to own the finest genetics anywhere in the world are purchasing semen and embryos.
Tips on Importing Bovine Embryos or Semen~~
Flushing embryos at DCCI on Texas Longhorn cattle.
Dr. Rob Stout flushes, and freezes all DCCI embryos in Ohio.
- Import can be relatively simple for the buyer when dealing with an experienced provider. Most countries require a permit for entry which the buyer must either purchase or acquire by prearrangement before importing. Some countries charge and some are helpful to assist in national herd improvement at no cost.
- Each country has rules for preparing, collections and shipments. Normally every requirement must be in perfect protocol compliance. The country of import lists their requirements and the country of export government officials sign-off that all these requirements are complete prior to shipment departure.
- It is more expensive for sire and donor cow owners to process for export than in-country shipments. As a result it is often the case that the very top genetics are used for export. The cost in the USA is normally about $2000 per bull extra for semen collection for export. Only sire owners with a volume export market and quality genetics will invest this extra money.
- The semen and embryos for export must be the highest quality,and pass up to 30 different quality control tests. As such it behooves both owners and buyers that matings and semen are collected from very superior quality stock.
- To assure a well planned future breeding program semen or embryos of different bloodlines should be selected. This will prevent inbreeding on the next generation.
- Before purchasing do research to identify the very top inseminator or embryologist for implanting. Even if all the protocol is performed perfect in the exporting country, the final success will depend on the quality and health of the host cows and the implanting. Only use a very professional and experienced embryologist.
- Once the order is placed the semen or embryos are packed into a sterilized liquid nitrogen tank, inspected by the United States Department of Agriculture and officially sealed. The shipment will normally arrive to the buyer within a week. Some shipments are combined in shared tanks going to the same country, which is a savings to the buyer. If possible this is always a good thing.
- Costs incurred will depend on several things: Embryos or semen costs, the rental or purchase of a new shipping tank, freight, federal documents, insurance, and UPS fees to the point of air departure.
- To ensure that resulting cattle can be registered it is important to deal with a reputable exporter that can provide DNA tests, copies of registration certificates and proper forms for certification after the calves are born. Although every country does not have a breed registry for every breed, it is important to keep records and certificates of pedigree for future values.
- Some countries allow semen and embryos shipped in the same tank. If so a breeding program can be planned with matings researched prior to purchase and shipment.
Tips on Business Success~~~~
The MVE Doble 20 unit is both a dry shipper for international transport and a professional storage tank once the embryos have arrived at their destination. Click to see all details on the Doble 20 and protective shipping container. Although the cost of purchasing a shipping container is a budget item to purchasing embryos, the value of the unit is a good investment and will be useful for frozen storage for dozens of years. DCCI recommends the Doble 20 for all international shipments.
- Purchase embryos from breeds or genetics not found locally. Often more profit can be achieved from new and different breeds that will provide special genetic values and local out-cross bloodlines.
- Plan a marketing and promotion program from the very first importation.
- Document your new bloodline calves with photos. Ask the export provider to assist in public awareness of the new calves.
- Some governments are not easy to deal with. They create rules that are nearly impossible to achieve compliance. Although a government may be very difficult take the request to the highest level and request a waver or special permit which may omit some "trade barrier" traps.
- Allow time and patience to get this project completed. Don't get discouraged.
- Many cattle breeds have made great strides in improvement during the last 10 years. This allows imported genetics to be compared to the very top quality of the exporting country.
- Allow several months for planning embryo implanting and purchasing. Although some countries are helpful, other countries are working to be very difficult.
- Always go exactly by the legal protocol required. Even though it is difficult to fill out every form perfect, it must be done to government requirements.