June 7, 2024

The Ministry of Agriculture and Waterways continues to use embryo transfer technology in partnership with Australian Reproductive Technologies to improve Fiji’s dairy and beef industry.
Since 2018, Fiji has been successfully using this technology to produce three meat breeds (Wagyu, Senepol, and Droughtmaster) and a dairy breed (Brown Swiss).
The Sigatoka Research Station conducted the seventh Embryo Transfer program yesterday (6th June) using Wagyu and Droughtmaster embryos imported from Australia.
Mr. Simon Walton, the Managing Director of Australian Reproductive Technologies, said that they have already implanted embryos of Senepol and Brown Swiss cattle. These cattle have now reached the age, which allows to produce semen and embryos from them.
He said the embryos transferred yesterday, were produced in Australia under very strict biosecurity protocols to prevent the introduction of any disease into Fiji.
“They have arrived in frozen form in a liquid nitrogen tank. We synchronized the recipients which are local cattle of inferior genetic quality to come on heat a week ago,” he said.
“These embryos are seven days old so the timing of the embryos and the stage of the recipient's reproductive tract is histocompatible. We thawed these embryos one by one, making sure they have survived the freezing and thawing process.”
Mr Walton added that the success rate of these embryo transfers should be around 50 percent and 67 embryos were transferred by the Australian Veterinarian, Dr Doug Watson with an expectation of 33 pregnancies.
“The gestation for cows is nine months or 280 days, so 280 days from today we will see many Wagyu and Droughtmaster calves born from the embryos that were transferred.”
Mr Walton added they are still developing the nucleus herds at the government research stations with the four improved breeds Wagyu, Droughtmaster, Senepol, and Brown Swiss.
He said they have already collected semen from these animals to increase the numbers, and the Ministry is using an Artificial Insemination (AI) program to distribute the semen to the private sector.
“In addition, several pure bred bulls have gone out to the private sector. Some farmers like Tiko Eastgate received pure Senepol bull about 18 months ago, and the calves that these bulls have produced are phenomenal,” he said.
“As we transfer more embryos to expand our nucleus herds, we are now also producing embryos here in Fiji to freeze them for future use and as a backup security measure. In case of a catastrophic failure or disease outbreak, we can rely on the stored embryos in the nitrogen tanks to rebuild the herd.”
“As time goes on, we can produce more embryos locally and transfer those embryos into the private sector cattle as well,” said Mr Walton.