Embryo Transfer is a procedure when an embryo is taken from a mare (called the donor mare) who is usually on the show circuit or unable to carry to term, and is implanted into another mare (called the recipient mare), who will then carry the foal to full term and deliver it. Sounds easy right?!
Optimally, we like to have several young recipient mares available to use for the donor mare. They must be synchronized to cycle at about the same time for the process to be successful. Ovulation of both mares should be within one day of each other for the best success.
After the donor mare is bred and has ovulated, seven to eight days later the donor mare's uterus is "flushed", the fluid is filtered, and then searched for the microscopic sized embryo. It is then rinsed several times in the special media and transferred into the uterus of the recipient mare. At 15 days the recipient mare has an ultrasound exam performed to see if the embryo survived and if it's thriving.
There are also commercial recipient herds across the country that we can ship the retrieved embryo to one of these facilities. If successful, you "rent" the recipient mare until the foal is weaned. Then you have the options with most places to either purchase the mare or return her back to the herd.
More recently, freezing embryos (called vitrification) has also been an option. They can successfully be thawed and put into a recipient mare at a much later date.
The cost is variable; anywhere from $3000 to $6000 as an average quote for the entire process.
Dakota Large Animal Clinic