Synchronization and ovarian development in dairy cows and heifers
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[ACCESS RESTRICTED TO THE UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI AT AUTHOR'S REQUEST.] Reproductive management is an important factor for improving reproductive efficiency in the dairy industry. Reproductive efficiency affects the profitability of the dairy herd by decreasing days not pregnant and increasing milk produced in a cow’s lifetime. There are many reproductive programs used to synchronize the estrous cycle. Prostaglandin F2α (PGF2α)-based programs synchronize estrus before artificial insemination (AI) after observed estrus. Some disadvantages to PGF2α-based reproductive programs are time requirements necessary for estrus detection (2 to 3 times/d for about 30 min) and lack of estrus activity observed in dairy cows (only about 40% will show estrus). An advantage to PGF2α-based reproductive programs is acceptable conception rates (about 45 to 60%) that can surpass timed AI (TAI). Reproductive programs that employ TAI are achieved by synchronization of ovulation with a series of PGF2α and gonadotropin releasing hormone (GnRH) injections followed by insemination 16 h later. Some of the advantages to synchronization of ovulation followed by TAI are: no estrus detection and acceptable conception rates (40 to 50%). Many reproductive programs include a presynchronization step. The advantage to presynchronization is a tightened synchrony by getting more cows and heifers in the same stage of the estrous cycle before estrous synchronization and AI or TAI. There are a variety of presynchronization methods used in cattle. One of the most common programs is two injections of PGF2α 14 d apart 12 d before initiation of Ovsynch (d 0 GnRH, 7 d, PGF2α, 56 h, GnRH, 16 h, TAI) (Moreira et al., 2001). Another is double Ovsynch where the Ovsynch program is administered 7 d before another Ovsynch program (Giordano et al., 2012). Long-term progestogens can also be used as a means to presynchronize the estrous cycle and has been successful in beef cows and heifers. Long term progestogens, such as a CIDR (controlled internal drug release) for 14 d, will suppress estrus, inhibit ovulation, and induce the development of a persistent dominant follicle that can ovulate after CIDR removal (Ahmad et al., 1995; Revah and Butler, 1996; Roche et al., 1999). Ovulation of the dominant follicle allows for cows and heifers to be late in the luteal stage of the estrous cycle before PGF2α and AI or PGF2α, 56 h, GnRH, 16 h, TAI. Presynchronization has shown to decrease the days to pregnancy. This is an advantage because it will directly affect the number of days a cow is not pregnant and the amount of milk she will produce in her lifetime. The objective of this research was to evaluate pregnancies per AI, ovarian follicular and luteal development of postpartum dairy cows and dairy heifers in response to long term progestin-based programs (14dCIDR) compared with PGF2α-based programs. Experiment 1 (Chapter 2) evaluated the use of a 14dCIDR-PGF2α program to a PGF2α-alone program for synchronizing dairy heifers before AI. Heifers were examined by real-time ultrasonography during treatment to assess the ovarian response. Heifers were also monitored for estrus following presynchronization and treatment of PGF2α to assess ovulation response. The 14dCIDR-PGF2α system resulted in more heifers with a larger CL at the time of PGF2α. This is ideal because of the greater luteolytic effects of PGF2α has on a more mature CL. The 14dCIDR-PGF2α heifers were AI and became pregnant sooner compared with the PGF2α-alone heifers. Experiment 2 (Chapter 3) evaluated the use of a 14dCIDR_TAI program compared with a PGF2α-based program in grazing dairy cows. The 14dCIDR_TAI program employed synchronization of ovulation before TAI and the PGF2α-based program employed synchronization of estrus with AI after observed estrus. The evaluation of reproductive efficiency for each program was examined. Cows assigned to the 14dCIDR_TAI program were AI early in the breeding season and were all AI by the end the breeding season compared with the PGF2α-based program. The PGF2α-based program had a greater first service conception rate (FSCR) compared with the 14dCIDR_TAI program but did not achieve a greater number of pregnancies after two inseminations. Experiment 3 (Chapter 4) evaluated the use of a 14dCIDR_TAI program compared with another common TAI program (Presynch-Oysynch56) in postpartum lactating dairy cows. Follicular dynamics and luteal development were monitored in both programs. Each program was evaluated for effectiveness to presynchronize the estrous cycle and establish pregnancy. The 14dCIDR_TAI and the Presynch-Ovsynch56 programs were comparable in their effectiveness to presynchronize the estrous cycle and establish pregnancy in cows that were cycling. Non-cycling cows treated with the Presynch-Ovsynch56 program had lesser conception rate compared with those that were cycling. There was no difference in conception rate with non-cycling or cycling cows treated with the 14dCIDR_TAI. Experiment 4 (Chapter 5) evaluated the use of the 14dCIDR_TAI program with or without PGF2α at CIDR removal. It is possible for cows to still have a CL after the end of the 14dCIDR treatment either due to longer estrous cycles or the cow was early in her estrous cycle when the CIDR was inserted. The addition of PGF2α may help improve the synchrony and conception rates after presynchronization of the estrous cycle before TAI. The addition of the PGF2α at CIDR removal demonstrated an increase in the number of cows that showed estrus after presynchronization but conception rates were comparable. Overall, the use of the 14dCIDR as means to presynchronize the estrous cycle has been demonstrated as an effective way to enhance the synchrony and decrease the interval to pregnancy in dairy cows and heifers.
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