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Lassen County Times
Susanville, California
May 1, 2007     Lassen County Times
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May 1, 2007

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4C Tuesday, May 1, 2007 Lassen County Times/Westwood PinePress ~3y Mary Carpenter !Staff Writer ! Bovine embryo ,transplant its a growing technology that fallows students and researchers to harvest some- times up to 15 embryos from one cow that can later be :transferred to other cows:" "This technology has !changed the beef market com- !pletely," said Brian Wolf, Agriculture Instructor at Lassen Community College :in Susanville. "With this method we are able to prevent the passing on of bad traits and lessen the chances of getting bad cows," explained Wolf. "If there is a disease prob- lem in the herd," he empha- sized, "unless it is a genetic issue, it can be controlled and eliminated." Students in Agriculture studies at LCC get hands on instruction in embryo collec- tion, embryo freezing and transfer to recipient cows. When the embryos are har- vested from a cow they are washed and prepared in spe- cial solutions for cryogenic freezing. "In this way we are able to produce higher quality beef using eggs that are fertilized by high end Black Angus or other high quality sperm," said Wolf. The transfer of bovine embryos in this manner allows the cattleman to wash the embryos and free them of further possibilities of pass- ing disease. This particular process also makes it easier for the beef to pass inspection and safer to export to other countries. "The hands-on experience that the students receive here is different from many four- year colleges and universities that have the same programs but do not allow students to actually perform the process themselves," said Wolf. "Many of our students have gone on to other universities and, even though they haven't pursued the cattle industry, the training they received here has helped them in their present studies and careers," says Wolf. Administering the Lidocaine is a delicate procedure. Ag instructor Brian Wolf says, "You must go forward a couple of vertebrae from the tail head. Too far forward and you will cause the hind legs to go numb and the cow will fall down. When the tail becomes flaccid the reproductive tract is numb and ready for safe flushing." Photos byNfary Carpenter Bridget Wood, a former stu- dent of Wolf's, went onto to Chico State to receive a Bachelors of Science Degree in Embryology. Erica Lowe, of Susanville, went to University of Nevada, Reno, and now works in stem cell research. Other former students of Wolf's like Lauren Moore. who also went on to UNR are now pre-med students and Andrea DeR0bertis is a USDA inspector. ecause of this program we also have students like Brad Augustine who started a small ranch and comes from as far away as Oregon," says Wolf. " Augustine, who travels from Lakeview to take classes at LCC, has a small cattle ranch that he started just after he retired from the US Bureau of Reclamation as a geologist. Augustine attended Lassen Community College in 1969 and was drafted into the Army shortly after. After a tour-of-duty in Vietnam, he returned to finish his degree at LCC and then go on to Chico State. "I used to be one of Susanville's original hippies and now I'm a gentleman rancher," said Augustine." Another student, Dustin Bowland, loads his cow into a chute that holds-her at the shoulders and when she calms down he delivers a shot of Lidocaine as an epidural. A very delicate procedure, Wolf says, "You must go for- ward a couple of vertebrae from the tail head. Too far for- ward and you will cause the hind legs to go numb and the 5ow will fall down. When the tail becomes flaccid the repro- ductive tract is numb and ready flushing." This procedure is done by the students, under the super- vision of Wolf, to learn the basic technique and to " .: . , ~" ".:::c~:, " %,:.; ", Performing the tedious task of finding embryos collected from flushing donor cow, Holly Vachel, left, and Rachel Joost search through a sea of microscopic tis- sue and debris. become comfortable with it. Once the cow is under the ' effect of the Lidocaine, Wolf feels the cervix and tells Bowland that he thinks he will "get a good number of embryos from this donor." Bowland inserts the catheter in through the repro- ductive tract and into one horn of the uterus. Once inside the uterus, "a balloon at the end of the catheter is inflated so that it will expand the uterus while we flush the. embryos," says Bowland. Each horn of the uterus is flushed into another tube run- ning into a large cup with a built in filter. The fluid is filtered and then students perform the tedious task of locating embryos under a microscope. Once found, the embryos are seven days old at the time and held in a solution to be quick- ly frozen in a way that sus- tains their viability. In some cases, eggs are transferred directly, which is difficult when trying to match donor cows and recipient cows with the same gestation period, in other words syn- chronized. Unfertilized and degenerate eggs also recov- ered from the flush are dis- carded. In the lab, Rachel Joost and Holly Vachel search for embryos from the cow they flushed earlier in the morn- ing. "It's hard to find them because there's a lot of junk and the embryos are really small even in the microscope so it's possible to miss one," said Vachel. while Joost con- tinues to search the sea of solution for a recognizable embryo. "It doesn't look like there are any," says Joost, as she continues to search. "I was hoping we'd find a few. I don't think she gave us many." Wolf comes into the lab to check and see ff lab partners Joost and Vachel have detect- ed any good embryos and see they have found one. But they say. :theY . aren't Sure if it is sfili on=<{he Straw that they fished it out of the cup with, or if it's actually in the new dish they are collecting the embryos in. Wolf takesa look in the microscope and identifies another. "There's another one in there so just keep looking. They're hard to see with all the tissue and other junk that's in with the embryos," he tells them. Outside, Arlington and Bowland flush each horn of their donor cow until they believe they got all there is to get. While Wolf supervises the procedure Arlington asks him whether it is easier to flush or putting in the eggs. "Flushing is easier because if you accidentally Scratch the inside of the donor's utei'us putting in the eggs then you've wasted your time. The eggs will no longer be any good,'' says Wolf. See Ag studies, Page 5C $ l.O00's presents AN ADULT BEREAVEMENT RETREAT at , CAMP RONALD McDONALD at EAGLE LAKE Tuesday, May 29 - Thursday, May 31, 2007 ' Enjoy the serenity of the Sierras as you experience a healthy environment for grieving learn effective tools for grieving to help promote healing discover self-care resources THIS EVENT IS FREE OF CHARGE Register by Friday, May 18th at Sierra Hospice ~ PO Box 95 ~ Chester, CA 96020 or Fax to (530) 258-3104 For more information please call (530) 258-3412