Managing Dry Donors for Embryo Transfer

Managing dry cows to achieve maximum embryo production is relatively easy. However, most dry donors submitted for ET are over fat and are, therefore under a management regime that is not ideal.

An essential part of dry cow management involves controlling body score as overweight donors will show reduced fertility and reduced sensitivity to superovulation drugs.

Since the dry cow is not under any lactation stress she does not need a diet with either a very high energy or protein level. 25-30kg of good silage, preferably "big bale", plus ad lib straw is a good foundation diet through an ET programme. This will provide body maintenance for an average sized cow but maintain good rumen function.

If a rise in body condition is needed some sugar beet pulp should be included in the diet. Sugar beet pulp is ideal as a further supplementary feed, providing energy to balance high protein content in the grass and also additional fibre to improve rumen function.

Sugar beet pulp is also useful as a carrier for supplementary trace elements - an essential part of any ET programme.

For donors not receiving standard mineral supplementation in their diet, a minimum regime is free access minerals - provided in the form of buckets, licks, or palatable powder - and trace element boluses (e.g. Cosecure & Ionox)

Between ET programmes a diet based on ad-lib straw with a few kgs of silage would prevent excessive weight gain but maintain an active rumen.

Key points

  • Ensure adequate mineral and trace element supplementation
  • Control body condition score and promote rumen function by including straw in the diet. Increase the proportion of straw between programmes