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How cryogenics have revolutionised animal breeding

The impact that human beings have had on the lives and development of other animals cannot be understated –while some species have been systematically bred for our purposes, others have been devastated by human colonisation through loss of habitat and hunting. We now have the ability to aid both selective breeding and species preservation with the use of cryogenic freezing.

Liquid nitrogen and carbon dioxide (CO₂) are used as an alternative to traditional methods of freezing with numerous advantages, including the safe storage of animal sperm that is critical for breeders. This ability to freeze, store and transfer genetic material has revolutionised animal breeding both for business and conservation.

Advantages of cryogenic freezing

Farming

As human beings began to settle and farm the land, they also began to domesticate animals, for work, consumables and companionship. Selective breeding has always been a huge part of that domestication – finding the best traits to breed into the next generation.

Science and farming have evolved. The lengthy and costly process of transporting specific animals between sites is now often replaced by the collection, storage, and transfer of genetic material, not only between farms, but also between countries. Animals prized for their physical and behavioural traits can produce sperm, eggs and embryos that are bought and sold around the world in an industry that is now worth billions of pounds.

For sellers and buyers in this market, the safe handling of genetic material is paramount in order to reduce damage to cells during freezing and thawing. Cryogenic freezing, using products such as those supplied by Air Products, offers many advantages:

With its advanced features – Touchscreen control, environmental monitoring inside the freezer with a high level of precision, and reduced carbon footprint ‐ the award‐winning MVE Variō is the energy saving alternative to ‐ mechanical freezers operating at 20°C to ‐150°C. The low power consumption of the freezers means that the energy requirement is less than 1% of that of conventional mechanical freezers.

High‐quality specimens can be collected and easily stored for future sale and use. This method means that animals can be breed whilst continuing to perform their primary purpose, such as horse racing. Not only does this extend their contribution and financial worth, it also minimises any inconvenience or potential stress from travel, whilst opening up the opportunity for wider international distribution. Another advantage is that a wider exchange of genetic information can improve domestic livestock diversity.

Conservation

Cryopreservation is a technique that is used alongside other forms of conservation to help protect and preserve the genetics of rare and endangered species, both in terms of rare‐breed livestock and wild animals.

In addition to the advantages detailed above, cryogenic freezing allows the long‐term storage of genetic samples. This means that the same animal can continue producing offspring over a longer period of time from material collected over a much shorter period, helping to recover and even regenerate a species.

Your perfect partner in cryogenics

Whether you are new to animal breeding and cryogenics or you need to improve your existing setup, Air Products can provide you with the right information and solutions for your needs, including:

For more information about our products and services, please visit our website or get in touch with our team of experts.


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