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Biotechnology in Agriculture:
Non-surgical removal of fertilized embryos from the Bovine Uterus

By Richard J. Norris

Target Audience:

This activity can be used with Biology, Anatomy and Physiology, Advanced Livestock, Genetics, and Biotechnology classes.


Students will simulate the step-by-step procedures needed to non-surgically remove embryos from the uterus of a superovulated cow using the Kalver training cow.


Students will use the Kalver trainer (artificial cow with anatomically correct reproductive tract) to demonstrate and practice the proper procedure for non-surgical removal of fertilized embryos. The students will perform each step of the procedure just as they would on a live cow. Students will operate in teams, one being the flush technician and the other acting as assistant. Upon completion, students will have a complete knowledge of what is being done to remove the embryos and will be prepared to observe and assist with the flush of a live animal.


This activity will allow the student to understand each step involved in the procedure used to non-surgically remove fertilized embryos. Allow simulation to take approximately 15-20 minutes per student.


Biotechnology in Agriculture

Lesson 2: Non-Surgical Retrieval of Fertilized Embryos from the Bovine Uterus

  • Flush supplies for simulation flushes or demonstration purposes are available from "Biotechnology Comes to Life" c/o Dr. Richard Norris, Maries Co. R-II Schools, 503 W. Third St., Belle, MO 65013. We will put together sample flush materials and supplies from used items from previous flushes. We also have video tape of actual flushes and the resulting embryos. Your cost is our cost plus shipping.

  • Flush supplies for actual process can be obtained from AB Technology, WSU Research & Technology Park, NE1335 Terre View Drive, Pullman, WA 99163. Call (509) 335-4047 for catalog and price list.

  • Kalver cow is available from Nasco, Inc., 901 Janesville Ave., Fort Atkinson, WI 53538, (414) 563-2446.

  • TEACHER will have explained the use of each equipment and supply item, and demonstrated the simulated flush procedure prior to the students attempting to complete the assignment.

  • Allow two fifty minute class periods to adequately prepare students for this activity.

CLASS TIME needed will depend on the number of students in the class. It is important that all students get the opportunity to go through the simulation exercise before witnessing an embryo flush on a live animal. They will have a more far reaching understanding of what is happening, and the role of the embryo transplant technician having completed this exercise.


Students will:

  1. Identify and describe the use of the following equipment and supplies needed to perform the non-surgical procedure for removing fertilized embryos.

    1. Foley catheter

    2. Catheter Stilette

    3. Bovine Uterine Flush Base Solution

    4. 50X Dulbecco�s Supplement+

    5. Y-tubing

    6. Embryo Millipore Filter

    7. 1 1/2 in. - 18 ga. needle

    8. Sterile, 10 ml. syringe

    9. Lutalyse

    10. Lidocaine Hydrochloride


  2. Using the Kelver training cow and the equipment and supplies from activity 1, students will perform the following flush procedures:

    1. prepare the flush solution by mixing 1 50X Dulbecco�s Supplement+ with 1 bag (100 ml.) of Bovine Uterine Flush Base Solution

    2. load the Foley catheter on the stilette

    3. while rectally manipulating the reproductive tract, pass the catheter through the cervix and into the body of the uterus

    4. inflate the balloon on the Foley catheter with 5ml. of fluid from the flush media bag, gently pulling back to seat against the cervix opening

    5. slowly remove the stilette from the catheter

    6. hang flush media on I.V. stand, attaching it to the longer end of the Y-tubing.

    7. attach short end of Y-tubing to the Millipore Filter

    8. lock clamps on both sides of the Y-tubing and firmly seat the middle section to the exposed opening of the Foley catheter

    9. open both clamps on the Y-tubing and allow fluid to run into millipore filter until it stabilizes at approximately � full, close both clamps

    10. gently move fluid around the filter until the screen has been completely moistened. Have assistant hold filter down close to ground

    11. open clamp on tube coming from flush media bag to the catheter, allowing fluid to fill the uterus

    12. gently cradling the uterus through the rectal wall, note the firmness of the uterine body as it fills with fluid

    13. once the uterus fills to an appropriate tightness without danger of rupturing the uterine wall, lock off the clamp on the ube leading from the flush media

    14. gently massage the uterus, especially the tips from the ovaries to the uterine body

    15. open the clamp on the tube leading from the catheter to the filter, allowing fluid to flow out of the uterus and into the filter

    16. once the fluid stream begins to slow, gently raise the uterine body toward the spine of the cow and continue to flush as long as fluid is continues to flow

    17. when fluid flow stops, lock clamp on tube coming from catheter and repeat the flush procedure until approximately 50 ml of fluid remains in the flush media bag

    18. remove fluid from the catheter balloon and gently pull the catheter out of the cervix and back outside the body of the cow

    19. with thumb and forefinger cover the openings on the end of the catheter and open both clamps on the Y-tubing, until approximately 10-15 ml. of the remaining fluid has flushed out the catheter and tubing

    20. carefully remove the filter from the Y-tubing, keeping the filter upright until reaching the lab area where the embryo search will take place

Method of Assessment/Evaluation

Assessment is embedded in student's successful completion of process.

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