Colorado State University's genetically pure bison herd has reached a huge milestone: the first in-vitro fertilized calf was born.
Because of the calf's birth, along with the addition of four calves and their mothers, the bison herd has quadrupled in size since November 2015, now with 44 members. The herd is part of the Laramie Foothills Bison Conservation, which has been working with CSU on conservation efforts.The 10-month-old calf, IVF 1, was born using IVF, or in-vitro fertilization, (hence, the name) and is said to be the "first calf in the world to be conceived using reproductive material from animals removed from Yellowstone National Park," according to a statement by the university. Dr. Jennifer Barfield, a reproductive physiologist with the CSU Animal Reproduction and Biotechnology Laboratory, couldn't contain her excitement. "It's a really good feeling to see a herd grow and to know that the animals from our research are going to have a real impact, not only in our herd but as we produce animals in this herd and help support other conservations herds." [gallery type="rectangular" size="large" ids="35457,35458"] IVF is when the egg is fertilized outside of the human, or in this case, the bison. Barfield said that just because an egg is fertilized, doesn't mean it'll result in a baby bison. In this particular instance, researchers used eggs from bison in Yellowstone and fertilized them with sperm from bulls with Yellowstone genetics. After seven days of fertilization, the eggs were then put through vitrification, a rapid cooling process that's similar to freezing, in order to preserve the embryos before transferring them to nine female bison. All of this resulted in IVF 1, who was very unexpected. "I didn't have a lot of hopes for this particular embryo because she didn't look that great," Barfield said. "But she defied the odds and survived."