Essay Reproductive Technologies for Animals in Agriculture

Essay Reproductive Technologies for Animals in Agriculture

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As the years pass by, research is continually uncovering new methods to improve efficiency of domestic breeding programs for commercially farmed animals. Within every one of these methods there are advantages, disadvantages, limitations and ethical issues which must be investigated and addressed. Still, with the use of these realised technologies, there have been significant advances already, that indicate a more genetically focused, and technology based farming life for future years. Procedures including Embryo Transfer (ET) and Artificial Insemination (AI) are already being employed, with widespread use on commercial cattle properties. While at the same time, technologies such as Cloning, and Genetic Engineering although seemingly already developed to some degree, are just the tip of the iceburg as researchers strive to create a genetically perfect, nation wide, breeding program for cattle, pigs, sheep, goats and poultry.

Artificial Insemination and Embryo Transfer are technologies that are often used in conjuncion on Australian farms, most often in the dairy industry, but also with beef cattle and occasionally sheep. (Brown.L et al, 2001) defined Artificial Insemination as the act of using instruments to deposit semen in the female reproductive tract with the aim of acheiving pregnancy. This procedure can then be elaborated on through the use of Embryo Transfer which involves the superovulation of the donor cow through the use of hormones prior to the AI procedure being excecuted, followed by a flushing of partially developed embryos 7 days later through the use of a foley catheter. These embryos are then either frozen for storage or implanted into surrogate cows after the syncronisation of their oestrus cycles with the done...

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...though scientific in this case, is the fact that, if cloning and genetic enginering become widely used technologies, they could begin to alter the natural evolution. When an animal is cloned, the mistakes of the previous generation are repeated. It is currently under question asto whether humans have the knowledge to allow the neceserry changes to occour, even while cloning, so as to stay in touch with the environmental changes. Or whether this halting of evolution could create disaster in the future.

Every new technology has advantages and disadvantages, aims and limitations. As each new technology is released though, we ourselves weigh up the profit and productivity against the cost and ethical dilemmas. Still, as reserch continues, technological advances will undoubtedly become a huge part of the Australian commercial farming industry. The question is when.

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