An abattoir study was conducted to evaluate the ovarian potential of 201 local zebu cattle from Ngaoundere, Adamawa region (Cameroon) for in vitro embryo production (IVEP). The ovaries were excised, submerged in normal saline solution (0.9%) and transported to the laboratory for a detailed evaluation. Follicles on each ovary were counted, their diameters (F) measured and were grouped into 3 categories: small (F < 3 mm), medium (3 = F = 8 mm) and large (F > 8 mm). Each ovary was then sliced into a petri dish; the oocytes were recovered in Dulbecco’s phosphate buffered saline, examined under a stereoscope (x10) and graded into four groups based on the morphology of cumulus oophorus cells and cytoplasmic changes of the oocytes. Grade I (GI): oocytes with more than 4 layers of bunch of compact cumulus cells mass with evenly granulated cytoplasm; grade II (GII): oocyte with at least 2–4 layers of compact cumulus cell mass with evenly granulated cytoplasm; grade III (GIII): oocyte with at least one layer of compact cumulus cell mass with evenly granulated cytoplasm; grade IV (GIV): denuded oocyte with no cumulus cells or incomplete layer of cumulus cell or expanded cells and having dark or unevenly granulated cytoplasm. The effects of both ovarian (ovarian localization, corpus luteum, size and weight of ovary) and non-ovarian factors (breed, age, body condition score (BCS) and pregnancy status of cow) on the follicular population and oocyte recovery rate were determined. There were an average of 16.75±0.83 follicles per ovary. The small, medium and large follicles were 8.39±0.60, 8.14±0.43 and 0.21±0.02 respectively. Oocyte recovery was 10.97±0.43 per ovary (65%). Oocytes graded I, II, III and IV were 3.53±0.19 (32.21%), 2.72±0.15 (24.82%), 2.24±0.15 (20.43%) and 2.47±0.20 (22.54%) respectively. The oocyte quality index was 2.26. Younger non pregnant cows having BCS of 3 and large ovaries presented higher number of follicles and oocyte quality (P < 0.05) compared with other animals. Oocytes with quality (grade I and II) acceptable for IVEP constituted 57.15% of the harvest. This study indicated that factors such as age, pregnancy status, BCS and ovarian size must be taken into account to increase the potential of the ovary for IVEP.
Key words: Adamawa breed, Embryo, Follicular population, Oocyte quality, Ovary.