After years of work, researchers at the University of Saskatchewan are celebrating the successful birth of four wood bison calves, a record-breaking achievement.

The calves were born through in-vitro fertilization, a first for bison. Adding to the excitement, one of the four was born of a frozen embryo originally harvested in 2012.

“The babies look great,” said Dr. Gregg Adams, a professor and reproductive specialist at the Western College of Veterinary Medicine (WCVM), in a release. “They’re keeping up with mom, and I’m really happy about it.”

World’s first IVF bison calves – Western College of Veterinary Medicine from WCVMToday on Vimeo.

Wood bison (Bison bison athabascae) are considered to be the Northern subspecies of the American bison, and are the largest land mammals in North America. Under the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) wood bison are listed in the status category of “Special Concern”.
Less than five percent of the original wood bison population exists in the wild today, and Adams hopes work like this will help the wood bison population, which is threatened by diseases like brucellosis and tuberculosis, not to mention habitat loss. By using reproduction techniques like in-vitro fertilization, it allows researchers to disinfect both the egg and sperm of the bison, creating embryos free of these diseases.

“It is tremendously gratifying to see this. I’m excited. I’m hoping all the different interest groups will see this as a real possibility, a solution to the problem.”

Adams hopes this research will help conserve the species and preserve genetic diversity.

The research was done with the help of PhD students, a post-doctoral fellow and researchers from the University of Calgary.

2 thoughts on “A World First — U of S Celebrates Bison Calves Born of In-Vitro Fertilization

  1. Great to hear that WCVM is moving the preservation of our Wood Buffalo forward. I have a great picture of healthy bison grazing the municipal office lawn at Zama City that I would like to share, along with a few comments about Caribou. Please contact me at the email address accompanying this comment. Ej

  2. It is great to see a bison related article make it onto Realagriculture! Thanks to the U of S for all the research they do on bison, especially wood bison. It should be noted that bison producers in Canada and the United States also do a large part in conserving the species and genetic diversity. These producers are also currently experiencing some of the largest profits in the livestock industry with calves selling for over $5.00 a pound and bison carcasses selling for $6.00 a pound on the rail. If any readers are considering diversifying their operation bison could be an excellent fit as the outlook of this industry looks very positive for years to come. Contact your local association for more information. Hope to see more bison articles in the future!

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