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The effects of ram exposure during progestagen oestrus synchronisation and time of ram introduction post progestagen withdrawal on fertility in ewes

Lookup NU author(s): Penelope Hawken, Dr Andrew Beard


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Three experiments were undertaken to investigate the effect of a pre-mating ram exposure during progestagen synchronisation treatment on time of breeding, ovulation rate, embryo quality and fertility and any interaction with time of ram introduction for breeding post sponge withdrawal. Crossbred ewes in experiment 1a (n = 348), 1b (mule; n = 133) and 2 (n = 58) underwent a 12-14 days synchronisation protocol. Three days prior to sponge withdrawal ewes were divided into Control (ewes in continued isolation from rams) or +Ram (ram-exposed) groups. Rams were introduced to +Ram ewes and remained with ewes until sponge withdrawal. Ewes in experiments 1a and 2 received eCG at sponge withdrawal and were reintroduced to rams at either 36 or 48 h post sponge removal (PSR). In experiment 1b, ewes did not receive eCG and were reintroduced to rams at 24 h PSR. In experiments 1a and 1b time of breeding, date of lambing and litter size were recorded. In experiment 2, ewes were slaughtered 5 days post breeding, reproductive tracts flushed and corpora lutea, ova and embryos assessed. Fewer +Ram ewes were mated by 96 h PSR (P < 0.001) than Control ewes in experiment 1a but not when rams were introduced earlier in experiment 1b. In experiment 1a, ram introduction at 36 h PSR improved conception to first service compared to introduction at 48 h PSR (P < 0.01) in both +Ram and Control groups. In experiments 1a and 1b, +Ram ewes had reduced litter size caused by more single births (1a; P < 0.001, 1b; P < 0.01). In experiment 2, +Ram ewes had fewer corpora lutea than Control ewes (P < 0.001) but embryo quality was similar. However, more good embryos were produced when rams were introduced for breeding at 36 h compared to 48 h PSR (P < 0.001). We conclude that a pre-mating ram exposure during the synchronisation treatment reduced the number of ewes mated at and conceiving to the first service. This was partially overcome by introducing rams for breeding earlier (24 or 36 h compared to 48 h PSR) but the most dramatic decrease in fertility was due to a reduction in ovulation rate in the ram-exposed ewes. © 2004 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Hawken PAR, Beard AP, O'Meara CM, Duffy P, Quinn KM, Crosby TF, Boland MP, Evans ACO

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Theriogenology

Year: 2005

Volume: 63

Issue: 3

Pages: 860-871

Print publication date: 01/02/2005

ISSN (print): 0093-691X

ISSN (electronic): 1879-3231

Publisher: Elsevier


DOI: 10.1016/j.theriogenology.2004.05.007

PubMed id: 15629803


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