How is it done?


The Donor cow receives an epidural.

A silicone 3 way catheter gets passed through the cervix into one of the uterine horns. The catheter is placed as far as possible into the uterus.

A cuff (balloon) is inflated near the end of the catheter to seal off the uterus.

A embryo filter is then connected to the outer end.

Special flushing media is allowed to flow into the uterus through gravity, lodging the embryos into the fluid suspension.

The fluid then flows out through a different port in the catheter, draining the uterine content  into the filter. The process is repeated for the other uterine horn.

With the embryos caught in the filter, the filter is taken to the microscope where the embryos are located and put into a nutrient rich holding media.

         To Do List for an Embryo Flush Program

Keep the Bulls out and far away!
Inject Multimin and Deposel (Selenium) 1 month before calving.
Vaccinate animals BEFORE or AFTER a program.
Try to prevent any changes and avoid stressing cows just before and during                  

      an ET Program.

  (No mixing of groups, no changes in food, no relocations etc.)

  Select your best and preferably the most fertile cows to put into the program.

The cows used in the program must be more than 45 days post calving at

      the START of the program. A flush program from start to finish takes about

      3 weeks.

Arrange a flush date with us as well as an animal specific Donor program  

      + All Drugs to complete the program with.

Accurate adherence to the synchronising and super ovulating program is

      essential. Please phone if an injection was forgotten or given wrongly.

Organise the semen and subsequently a competent person (If you can’t AI

      yourself) to do the inseminations on the donor cows at the times indicated

      on the program. (Usually two inseminations 12 hrs apart.)

We arrive 7 days after the AI’s as is indicated on our ET program :

We will palpate the recipients first
Then Flush the Donor cows.
Then we will freeze the difference of viable embryos not needed for   


Then we will do the transfers.

          A cow exiting a flush program can be mated on her second cycle after   

          her last flush.

          A cow can be flushed again after calving where she should give a similar    

          result to her previous flushes.

Donor cows are valuable cows that get put into a super ovulation program to produce more than one embryo.

         A donor cow can be flushed every 6-8 weeks.


         There is a big variation in the amount of embryos produced per cow.

Embryos retrieved from a single flush varies from cow to cow and from one flush to the next. In general cows have a repeatable pattern. They give similar results over several flushes. There are good, average and poor flushers.

You could be lucky and hit the jackpot with one of your cows and get 72 viable embryos. You could get 10 embryos , with the world average of 6.5 viable embryos per flush. Or your cow can be on the other side of the curve and produce a Zero.

  Some cows react poorly to the hormone treatment due to age, breed, stage of lactation and body condition (especially when too fat). The best results are achieved by flushing cows between the ages of 4 and 7 years. Heifers and first calvers in general give a unreliable result and the variation in embryo numbers produced is bigger.
  Fertile cows that calve every year and had fertile mothers usually produce more embryo's.
  A cow with an older suckling calf or during peak lactation generally gives less embryo's.

Taking numerous factors into consideration, it is important to individualise programs and adapt feeding regimes according to the specific needs of the cow.

e.g: When cold: feed extra hay/roughage to help the animals generate more heat. Temporary weaning of calves every night can also be beneficial.

         A critical component to produce good quality embryos is balanced

         nutrition with supplementations of essential minerals.

(e.g. selenium, copper, zinc, magnesium and manganese) and vitamins (vitamin A,D and E). Shortages cause an increase in dead and unfertilised structures.

         To produce the maximum number of embryos, you

         should have the donor cows on a rising plane of nutrition (increasing    

         body condition).

The food should contain no urea as a protein supplement. The ideal is to use good quality roughage to achieve the rising plane.

A production lick or small amount of concentrate food can be used as a mixing agent to supplement a “fertility pack” with essential vitamins, minerals and fatty acids into the diet. Using a nutritionist to customise a feed for your specific needs on your farm is highly recommended!

Select the best and most fertile animals to be the recipients of your very valuable embryo calves. Select the cows that are calving early in the season and that produce and raise a good calf every year.

The nutritional requirements for a recipient are just as important as mentioned above under “DONORS”.


Embryo Flushing