How Much Does an Embryo Transfer in a Cattle Cost?

Written by: Staff

An embryo transfer is a procedure done to multiply the number of cattle to expand either the herd or meet market demands. It can also be done if a farmer wants to use the best bulls for their best cows.  This makes it easier for cattle herders to double the number of cattle they can produce since most females will only produce one calf per year.

An embryo transfer, if done correctly, can produce up to 10 or more calves per year from their prized cows, profit from increased sales and even extend the life of some older cows.

Cattle by LHOON, on Flickr
Cattle” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by LHOON

How much does an embryo transfer in cattle cost?

On average, the costs can range anywhere from $300 to $600 per recipient when everything is factored in, with $200 to $500 of that for the flush and another $30 to $75 to transfer the embryo.  This price, most of the time, is going to widely vary depending on where you live, the number of embryos being harvested and professional you choose.

Agtech, for example, lists its prices on its website.  According to the pricing list, the donor flush costs will be $200 per donor collected, while each transferable embryo produced with another would cost $28.  This price, however, can change due to the ever-changing drug and supply costs and will not include the semen or management costs.

Members on talked about this question, and they said it could, on average, cost anywhere from $400 for the flush to about $50 for the transfer.  Then, on top of this fee, you will have to consider the drugs, semen and even boarding.  Another member said she was billed $173 for a bottle of Lutalyse, a bottle of Mutimin and one embryo transplanted.  They had said if you’re paying close to $400, it better be from an outstanding cow. says, today, the prices for a cow embryo transfer can be $125 to $150 per embryo, and centers can be $400 to $700 higher for a high-quality cow.

Embryo transfer in a cattle overview

Transferring the embryo, according to the Cattle Network, will require two components:  The first component will generate and flush the embryo from the donor female and transfer each embryo into a different female that will gestate and give birth to that fetus.  These two components, however, don’t have to be done by the same producers.  The end result can then be produced so that someone else can purchase them and transfer into his or her females.  Selection will be the most important decision since a donor female will need a superior genetic history to demand a high price on the market.  This ideal genetic history will have a regular estrous cycle, beginning at a younger age and will routinely conceive no more than two breedings, free of disease.

Basically, the donor cow will be inseminated three to four times, and seven days afterward, the uterus will be rinsed out to extract the embryos.  During the flushing, a Controlled Intravaginal Drug Release will be inserted to help the cow produce a hormone that makes it think it’s pregnant.  Following this, injections will be administered to cause the cow to cycle.  After all the injections have been done, the Controlled Intravaginal Drug Release will be removed and the cow will be monitored until they show signs of being in heat.  Once in heat, the cow will be inseminated a few times, and about a week later, the embryo will be flushed, isolated, frozen and then inserted in a cow in the future.

On average, a donor cow can produce about six embryos per flush, but it will greatly vary based on the cow’s age, environmental factors and semen being used.

After the flush, donor cows will show heat anywhere from one to two weeks afterward.

What are the extra costs?

Freezing, if necessary, can be an additional $40 to $65 and another $50 to $100 to thaw and transfer.

Mileage, if the professional has to travel to your location, will often charge by the mile, unless specified in the original quote.  This is often $1 to $2 per mile.  If, for some reason, a qualified professional isn’t available within your area, then you may have to ship your cow to a center or consider the shipping fees if the center allows it.

As noted above, the price quote mentioned will not include the drugs, semen and boarding if required.  Drugs alone can cost about $200 per donor.

The more qualified a donor is, the more you may have to pay for the flush/transfer.

If a cow has a history of calving problems, then an ultrasound may be required to dismiss the possibility of a problem and/or to determine the best time to flush.

Tips to know:

A donor cow, in order to be flushed, on average, should be at least 60 days postpartum before starting or 70 to 100 days into lactation for a dairy cow.

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