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Chapter 16
Record keeping

Good records are essential for successful embryo transfer programmes for business and legal purposes, so that breed associations can verify parentage (it is not unusual that information is requested five or ten years after embryo transfers were done to sort out discrepancies of blood type), and so that clients can export embryos. Records frequently permit one to determine why pregnancy rates deteriorated after making a certain change in procedures or materials (see Chapter 18). In many countries licences to do embryo transfer are issued only after scrutiny of record-keeping systems. This is to protect clients. It is not unusual for courts to subpoena records. We do not provide any examples of financial records, but obviously these are also important in commercial situations to secure timely payment, and for tax and investment purposes.

The first form in this chapter is the form recommended by the International Embryo Transfer Society for registration purposes (Example 1). Many breed registries require this form to be used for offspring to be eligible for registration. The form is especially relevant for frozen embryos. The absolute minimum data are requested:

On the container of frozen embryos:

On the goblets and canes:

The above information must be codified in order to fit in the limited space available on ampules, straws, canes, goblets, etc. It is obvious that using internationally standardized codes will maximize an organization's flexibility and reduce the problems encountered when importing or exporting embryos from another embryo transfer group or another country.

What can be recorded on a container of embryos is clearly not enough to provide all the information necessary, for example, for determining ownership, for proper thawing and transfer, or for registration of calves born as a result of the transfer of those embryos; however, the data should be sufficient to allow recovery of all necessary information from appropriate forms on file with the embryo transfer practitioner, breed associations, and owners of the animals.

There follow examples of forms used to record identifying information, the status of health, and oestrous cycles for donors (Example 2) and recipients (Example 3), oestrus detection (Example 4), superovulatory treatment (Example 5), embryo recovery (Example 6), embryo evaluation (Example 7), and embryo transfer (Example 8). In many laboratories, coded numeric responses are recorded in order to facilitate entry of data into a computer for analysis (see key to Example 7).

Example 1

Example 1 (reverse)


  1. Complete one or more Certificates of Embryo Recovery for each recovery. The responsible practitioner signing this certificate is attesting to the fact that the donor dam was identified with her certificate of registration, that the service sire information was taken from a written record of services, and all the information is true and correct.

  2. Certificate of Embryo Transfer will be completed to the extent that is necessary and/or appropriate to identify each recipient into which an embryo is transferred. If frozen embryos are transferred, the Certificate of Embryo Recovery will be completed by the responsible practitioner or by transferring from the original Certificate of Embryo Recovery or by attaching a copy. The practitioner signing the Certificate of Embryo Transfer is attesting to the accuracy and completeness of the identification of the embryos being transferred and the identity of the recipients into which embryos are being transferred.

    A complete Certificate of Embryo transfer, with Certificate of Embryo Recovery, will be submitted to the appropriate breed office within 120 days of transfer, and before any resulting offspring will be registered.

    Should any embryo identified hereon in recipient change ownership, such change will be documented by the seller completing an application for transfer with one copy submitted to the breed office and one copy provided the buyer which, in turn, will be submitted with the application to register the resulting offspring. One application for transfer is required for each change in ownership. The application for registration will be accepted from the person shown as the last owner of the recipient and/or the owner of the resulting calf at the time of its birth.

  3. The Certificate of Freezing will be completed, with the Certificate of Embryo Recovery, whenever embryos are frozen. The practitioner signing the certificate is attesting to the identification of each embryo, with container labelling, as set forth within the Certificate, along with the accuracy of all other information.

    One copy will be sent to the breed office and one copy provided the owner.

    When a frozen embryo changes ownership the seller will submit one copy of an application for transfer to the breed office with a second copy provided the buyer from which an application for registration of the resulting offspring will be accepted on condition that properly completed Certificates A-C have been submitted to the breed office. Each change of ownership must be covered by a transfer.

    When frozen embryos are exported a special application for embryo export will be submitted to the respective breed office, with the appropriate fee.

    Use the following codes to describe the embryo, identify the breed and identify the month in all dates.


22 - to 12-cell
3Early Morula
5Early Blastocyst
7Expanded Blastocyst
8Hatched Blastocyst
9Expanding Hatched Blastocyst


  1. Excellent or Good
  2. Fair
  3. Poor
  4. Dead or degenerating


AN - Aberdeen Angus
AB - Abondance
AF - Afrikander
AY - Ayrshire
BA - Barzona
BE - Beefalo
BF - Beef Friesian
BM - Beef Master
BB - Belgium Blue
BG - Belter Galloway
BD - Blonde D'Aquitaine
BO - Bradford
BR - Brahman
BH - Brahmental
BN - Brangus
BU - Braunvieh
SB - Brown Swiss (beef)
BS - Brown Swiss (dairy)
CP - Campine Red Pied
CN - Canadienne
CB - Charbray
CH - Charolais
CA - Chianina
DB - Danish Black & White
DJ - Danish Jersey
RW - Danish Red & White
DE - Devon
DR - Dexter
FP - East Flemish Red Pied
ER - Eringer
FA - Flamand
FL - Fleckvieh
FR - Fribourg
FB - Friesian (Belgium)
DF - Friesian (Dutch)
GA - Galloway (beef)
GD - Galloway (dairy)
GS - Gascone
GV - Gelbvieh
GR - Groninger
GU - Guernsey
HC - Hays Converter
HH - Hereford (horned)
HP - Hereford (polled)
SH - Highland (Scotch Highland)
HO - Holstein
HY - Hybrid (Alberta Hybrid)
JE - Jersey
KB - Kobe (Wagyu)
LU - Luing
LM - Limousin
LR - Lincoln Red
MA - Maine-Anjou
MR - Marchigiana
ME - Maremmana
MI - Meuse-Rhine Ijessel
MO - Montbeliard
MG - Murray Grey
NM - Normandie
NR - Norwegian Red
PA - Parthenais
PI - Piedmont
PR - Pie Rouge
PZ - Pinzgauer
RA - Ranger
AR - Red Angus
RB - Red Brangus
RD - Red Dane (Red Danish, Danish red)
WW - Red Holstein
RP - Red Poll
RN - Romagnola
RO - Rotbunte
SA - Salers
SG - Santa Gertrudis
MS - Shorthorn (milking)
SS - Shorthorn (beef - Scotch)
SP - Shorthorn (polled)
IS - Shorthorn (Illawarra)
SM - Simmental
DS - South Devon
SX - Sussex
TA - Tarentaise
TG - Tasmanian Grey
TL - Texas Longhorn
WB - Welsh Black
WF - West Flemish Red
XX - Crossbreds


AL - Alpine
AG - Angora
LN - La Mancha
NU - Nubian
TO - Toggenburg


AS - American Saddlebred
AP - Appaloosa
AB - Arabian
BL - Belgian
CL - Clydesdale
HA - Hackney (Horse)
HK - Hackney (Pony)
HU - Hunter
MN - Morgan
PL - Palomino
PE - Percheron
PN - Pinto
QH - Quarter Horse
SE - Shetland
SI - Shire
SN - Standardbred
SF - Suffolk Punch
TW - Tennessee Walking
TH - Thoroughbred
WE - Welsh


YO - Yorkshire
LA - Landrace
HA - Hampshire
DU - Duroc
LC - Lacombe
PC - Poland China
BK - Berkshire
SO - Spotted
CW - Chester White
PE - Pietrain
TM - Tamworth
WS - Wessex Saddleback
LW - Large White (British)
LB - Large Black (British)


BC - Border Cheviot
CO - Columbia
CR - Corriedale
DO - Dorset
FN - Finish Landrace
HA - Hampshire
LE - Leicester
LI - Lincoln
MT - Montadale
NC - N. Country Cheviot
OX - Oxford
RA - Rambouillet
RM - Romnelet
SB - Scottish Blackface
SR - Shropshire
ST - Southdown
SU - Suffolk

Example 2

Card for recording identifying information, status of health and oestrous cycles for donors

NameOwner(s)CSU No.
Breed Arrival
Born(front of card)Departure
Reg. No.Vacc. RecordDateVaccineBrandRETLET Metal Tag
Date Blood Type    
DateHistoryDateTRT(R) Response (L)HeatDateRecipP/ORecipP/O
    (back of card)      
 HEALTH TESTS          

Example 3

Card for recording identifying information, status of health and oestrous cycles for recipients


Original No.:                         Source:                         CSU No.:                        
Birth date:                                                     Breed:                                          
Name and registration no.                                                                                
Sire:                                             Disposed:                                                     

  Genital examination and health record
Estrus and embryo transfer datesDateVaccinations, blood tests pregnancy diagnosis, etc.

Example 4

Card for recording observations of oestrus detection

Date                         Time started                         Finished                        
Pens checked                                                                                                
Codes: +=standing heat; K=red KAMAR but not standing heat;
B=metestrous bleeding; M=mucus; O=other.

cow no.breedpen no.code and comments

Example 5

Superovulation record

Please fill in all blanks; if not applicable, use NA

Cow's identification number:                         Breed:                        

Semen:                                         Location:                                      


Estrus date and time:


DATE OF RECOVERY:----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

* At first insemination, evaluate motility and give % progressively motile

SIDE OF CL BEFORE TREATMENT:--------------------------------------------------
COMMENTS: ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
AFTER START OF TREATMENT:--------------------------------------------------
COMMENTS: ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Example 6

Record of embryo recovery

D O N O R     R E C O R D S (Front side)


DATE: Year Month Day, e.g. 88 AU 20, using numeric codes for year and day, and two-letter alpha code for month; see Example 1 for recommendations

DONOR IDENTIFICATION By breed and registration number (or ear-tag or tattoo number); see Example 1 for alpha abbreviations of breeds

TREATMENT Superovulatory treatment schedule   
00 = unsuperovulated01 = 6,6,4,4,2,2,2,2, mg FSH02 = 2 500 IU eCG (PMSG)03 = … 
SEMEN Whether fresh (1) or frozen (2)/number of times inseminated   
11 = fresh/1 time22 = frozen/2 times21 = frozen/1 time12 = fresh/2 times… etc.

INTERVAL TO ESTRUS Interval to estrus from initial superovulatory injection to nearest 0.5 day, e.g. 55 = 5.5 days, 00 = recovery from unsuperovulated donor

LENGTH OF ESTRUS Length of estrus to nearest 0.5 day, e.g. 10 = 1.0 day, 00 = appointed estrus

INTERVAL FROM ESTRUS TO RECOVERY To nearest 0.5 day, e.g. 075 = 7.5 days

(back side)

No. CLNo. folliclesNo. CLNo. folliclesTransferableAbnormal

RIGHT OVARIAN RESPONSE and LEFT OVARIAN RESPONSE Number of corpora lutea and number of follicles estimated by rectal palpation

OVA RECOVERED Numbers of transferable and abnormal embryos (including unfertilized ova)

Example 7

Form for recording data on evaluation of embryos

E M B R Y O   D E S C R I P T I O N


DATE Year Month Day, e.g. 88 AU 20, using numeric codes for year and day, and two-letter alpha code for month (see Example 1 for recommendations)

DONOR Identification by breed and registration number (or ear-tag or tattoo number); see Example 1 for alpha abbreviations of breeds

RECIPIENT Identification by breed and registration number (or ear-tag or tattoo number); see Example 1 for alpha abbreviations of breeds

CONSECUTIVE No. (to identify embryo in data files)

TRANSFERER Name of person who evaluates and transfers embryo: 1 = Joe Transferer; 2 = Jill Transferer

AGE OF EMBRYO Days from donor estrus to embryo collection to nearest 0.5 day (donor estrus = day 0), e.g. 075 = 7.5 days

CELL NUMBER Number of cells (3 digits), e.g. 080 = 80 cells

COMPACTNESS Compactness of cells: 1 = tight (polygonal blastomeres); 2 = loose (round blastomeres)

SHAPE Shape of embryo mass: 1 = spherical; 2 = elliptical; 3 = irregular

VARIATION CELL SIZE 1 = normal; 2 = irregular

COLOR Color of cellular mass: 1 = normal; 2 = dark; 3 = light

VESICLES 1 = normal; 2 = excessively large vesicles

EXCLUDED CELLS Number of large excluded blastomeres

PERIVITELLINE SPACE Percentage of zona cavity occupied by embryo: 111 = no zona; 080 = 80 percent

STAGE OF EMBRYONIC DEVELOPMENT 1 = ≤8 cells; 2 = 9–16 cells; 3 = early morula; 4 = tight morula; 5 = early blastocyst (blastocoele just discemible); 6 = blastocyst; 7 = expanded blastocyst; 8 = hatching blastocyst; 9 = hatched blastocyst; 10 = elongated blastocyst

QUALITY OF EMBRYO 1 = perfect embryo for its stage (excellent); 2 = trivial imperfections such as oval zona, few, small excluded blastomeres, slightly asymmetrical (good); 3 = definite but not severe problems such as moderate numbers of excluded blastomeres, small size, small amounts of degeneration, etc. (fair); 4 = partly degenerate, vesiculated cells, greatly varying cell size, very small and/or similar problems (poor); 5 = severely degenerate, probably not worth transferring (very poor); 6 = unfertilized, zona only, ghost-like, 3-cell, etc.

RETARDATION Number of days

HOURS STORED To nearest 0.5 hour (e.g. 035 = 3.5 hours), frozen = 001

Example 8

Record of embryo transfer

R E C I P I E N T   R E C O R D


DATE Year Month Day, e.g. 88 AU 20, using numeric codes for year and day, and two-letter alpha code for month; see Example 1 for recommendations

DONOR Identification by breed and registration number (or ear-tag or tattoo number); see Example 1 for alpha abbreviations of breeds

RECIPIENT Identification by breed and registration number (or ear-tag or tattoo number); see Example 1 for alpha abbreviations of breeds

CONSECUTIVE No. (to identify embryo in data files)

SYNCHRONY Degree of estrous synchrony between donor and recipient: 0 = unknown; 1 = exact; 2 = -0.5 day; 3 = +0.5 day; 4 = -1 day… etc. Note: + = recipient in estrus after donor

LENGTH OF ESTRUS 1 = >12 hours; 2 = 12–24 hours; … etc.

METHOD OF TRANSFER 1 = non-surgical; 2 = flank surgery

BODY CONDITION 1 = normal; 2 = fat; 3 = thin

SIDE OF CL (Corpus luteum) 1 = right; 2 = left; 3 = none; 4 = both

TYPE OF CL 1 = normal; 2 = small; 3 = none

FOLLICULAR TISSUE 1 = absence of large follicles on ovary in addition to CL; 2 = presence of large follicles on ovary in addition to CL

ANAESTHESIA 1 = epidural anaesthesia; 2 = no anaesthesia

PREGNANCY DIAGNOSIS 1 = pregnant; 2 = not pregnant; 3 = no transfer; 4 = pregnant but aborted before 90 days; 5 = aborted after 90 days; 6 = aborted because of damage during palpation; 7 = died after palpated pregnant; … etc.

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