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Pregnancy establishment and maintenance in cattle

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A single ovulation, reciprocal embryo transfer study was used to investigate effects of oocyte competence and maternal environment on pregnancy establishment and maintenance in beef cows. Estrous cycles were synchronized in suckled beef cows and embryo donors were inseminated on d 0 (n = 810). Cows were classifi ed on d 0 as having a small (<12.5 mm) or large (≥12.5 mm) ovulatory follicle and randomly chosen as donors or recipients to remove confounding effects of ovulatory follicle size on fertility. Embryos (n = 393) or oocytes (n = 44) were recovered on d 7, and all viable embryos were transferred into recipients (n = 354). All statistical analyses were conducted using the GLM procedure of SAS. Path analysis (with significance set at P < 0.10) was used to examine potential cause–effect relationships among the measured variables. Greater donor cow BW, circulating estradiol concentration at insemination, postpartum interval, and ovulatory follicle size directly increased (P < 0.10) fertilization success. Greater donor cow age was the only factor that directly decreased (P < 0.10) fertilization success. Viability of d-7 embryos was directly inhibited (P < 0.10) by rapid follicular growth rate from d –2 to 0 and heavier BW. Direct beneficial effects to embryo viability were increased serum progesterone concentration on d –2 and ovulatory follicle size. Pregnancy maintenance from d 7 to 27 was enhanced (P < 0.10) by increased serum estradiol concentration on d 0 and progesterone concentration on d 7 in the recipient cow. Increased follicular diameter in the recipient cow on d 0 was detrimental to pregnancy maintenance from d 7 to 27. This manuscript defines the complex interplay and relative contributions of endocrine and physical factors both prior and subsequent to fertilization that influence both oocyte competence and maternal environment and their roles in establishment and maintenance of pregnancy.
J. A. Atkins , M. F. Smith , M. D. MacNeil , E. M. Jinks , F. M. Abreu , L. J. Alexander , T. W. Geary
USDA Scientist Submission
Journal of animal science 2013 Feb. v.91 no.2
American Society of Animal Science
Journal Articles, USDA Authors, Peer-Reviewed
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