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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: REDUCING COST OF EFFICIENT BEEF PRODUCTION Title: Preovulatory estradiol and the establishment and maintenance of pregnancy in suckled beef cows

Authors
item Jinks, E -
item Smith, M -
item Atkins, J -
item Pohler, K -
item Perry, G -
item Macneil, M -
item Roberts, Andrew
item Waterman, Richard
item Alexander, Leeson
item Geary, Thomas

Submitted to: Journal of Animal Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: November 24, 2012
Publication Date: January 7, 2013
Repository URL: http://handle.nal.usda.gov/10113/56118
Citation: Jinks, E.M., Smith, M.F., Atkins, J.A., Pohler, K.G., Perry, G.A., MacNeil, M.G., Roberts, A.J., Waterman, R.C., Alexander, L.J., Geary, T.W. 2013. Preovulatory estradiol and the establishment and maintenance of pregnancy in suckled beef cows. Journal of Animal Science. 91:1176-1185.

Interpretive Summary: In beef cows, GnRH-induced ovulation of small follicles decreased pregnancy rates and increased late embryonic mortality. Furthermore, small ovulatory follicle size was associated with reduced circulating preovulatory concentrations of estradiol. Beneficial effects of estradiol for pregnancy in cattle could be through improved oocyte maturation and quality, improved sperm transport and viability, or through improved environment of the uterus for pregnancy. Cows that ovulate a smaller follicle after an injection of gonadotropin releasing hormone have a reduced chance of becoming pregnant. This results from both reduced pregnancy establishment and greater embryonic death. We assumed ovulation of an immature ovum or from an immature follicle to be the root cause. However, we have also learned that size of the ovulatory follicle is correlated with blood concentration of estradiol. We conducted two experiments to study the effects of estradiol on pregnancy. In the first study, we measured estradiol in blood of cows at the time of GnRH2 injection (7 days before recovering their embryo). We also measured estradiol in blood of cows at GnRH2 (7 days before giving them an embryo). Pregnancy was determined 21 and 65 d after cows received an embryo. Circulating estradiol was positively correlated with follicle size at GnRH2 and progesterone at embryo transfer. Donor cows with greater estradiol at GnRH2 were more likely to yield an embryo than an unfertilized oocyte. Donor and recipient cows were classified into four groups based on high or low circulating estradiol concentration. Pregnancy rate at d 27 were low-low (45%), low-high (65%), high-low (43%), and high-high (61%) groups. Because pregnancy rates were greater when embryo recipient cows had greater estradiol, a second study was conducted. In the second study, cows were given estradiol or no treatment one day before GnRH2 and size of their follicle was measured. Compared with the control cows, estradiol treated cows with small follicles had greater pregnancy rates. In summary, decreased estradiol at induced ovulation decreased fertilization rate and pregnancy rate in cows. Providing estradiol before ovulation improved pregnancy rate in cows induced to ovulate small follicles.

Technical Abstract: In postpartum beef cows, GnRH-induced ovulation of small dominant follicles decreased pregnancy rates and increased late embryonic/fetal mortality. In Exp. 1, single ovulation reciprocal embryo transfer (ET) was utilized to examine the relationship between preovulatory serum concentrations of estradiol at GnRH-induced ovulation, in donor and recipient cows, and establishment and maintenance of pregnancy. Suckled beef cows (n = 1,164) were administered GnRH on d -9 (GnRH1), prostaglandin F2a (PGF) on d -2, and GnRH2 on d 0 (CO-Synch protocol) either with (donors; n = 810) or without AI (recipients; n = 354). Single embryos (n = 394) or oocytes (n = 45) were recovered from the donor cows (d 7; ET) and all live embryos were transferred into recipients. Serum concentration of estradiol at GnRH2 was positively correlated with follicle size at GnRH2 (r = 0.45, P < 0.01) and progesterone at ET (r = 0.34, P < 0.01). Donor cows with greater estradiol at GnRH2 were more likely to yield an embryo than an unfertilized oocyte (P < 0.01). Donor and recipient cows were retrospectively divided into four groups (low estradiol [< 8.4 pg/ml] or high estradiol [ = 8.4 pg/ml]) based on serum concentration of estradiol at GnRH2. Pregnancy rate at d 27 for low-low (n = 78), low-high (n = 80), high-low (n = 91), and high-high (n = 101) groups (donor-recipient; respectively) was 45a, 65b, 43a, and 61%b respectively (abP < 0.02). Since recipient cows with greater estradiol concentration at GnRH2 had greater pregnancy rates in Exp. 1, the objective of Exp. 2 was to evaluate the effect of estradiol supplementation on pregnancy rate. Ovulation was synchronized in suckled beef cows (n = 600) using the CO-Synch protocol with the insertion of a CIDR (intravaginal progesterone supplement) from d -9 until d -2. Approximately one-half of the cows (n = 297) received an injection of estradiol cypionate 24 h before AI (ECP; 0.5 mg i.m.). Compared with the Control cows, ECP treatment increased (P < 0.01) pregnancy rates of cows induced to ovulate smaller dominant follicles (< 12.2 mm). In conclusion, GnRH-induced ovulation of small dominant follicles was associated with reduced serum estradiol, fertilization rate (donor cows) and pregnancy establishment (recipient cows). Furthermore, ECP supplementation during the preovulatory period increased pregnancy rates in cows induced to ovulate smaller dominant follicles.

Last Modified: 12/25/2014
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