Assisted reproductive technologies in the reproductive management of small ruminants
In modern agriculture, assisted reproductive technologies are being used for out of season oestrus induction, enhancement of reproductive performance and genetic improvement. In addition, they can have substantial contribution in preservation of endangered species or breeds, as well as in eradication programs of various diseases. While their applications are widespread in cattle, in small ruminants it is almost restricted to artificial insemination. The main limitations of a wider application in small ruminants are the naturally occurring anoestrus period, the variability of response to superovulatory treatments, the fertilisation failure and the need of surgery for collection and transfer of gametes and embryos. Nonetheless, during the last 30 years, considerable progress has been made in sheep and goat embryo technologies, especially in the fields of oestrus synchronisation, superovulation and in vitro embryo production. This paper reviews the status of assisted reproductive technologies in sheep, analysing the prospects offered by recent advances in in vivo and in vitro embryo production from mature and juvenile lambs. (C) 2012 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.