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J Anim Sci. 1996 May;74(5):950-4.

Testes function and feedlot performance of bulls actively immunized against gonadotropin-releasing hormone: effect of age at immunization.

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  • 1Department of Animal Science, University of California, Davis 95616, USA.


Testes function, feedlot performance, and carcass traits were evaluated in bulls actively immunized against gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) at different ages. Bull calves were randomly assigned to one of seven treatment groups (n = 15 calves/group). Calves were unimmunized (Group 1), immunized at 1.5, 4, 7, or 12 mo of age with a GnRH-keyhole limpet hemocyanin (KLH) conjugate (Groups 2 to 5, respectively), or castrated at 4 mo of age (Groups 6 and 7). Immunized bulls did not receive a secondary, or booster, immunization. Calves in group 6 received Synovex-C at castration and Synovex-S at weaning and feedlot entry. Anti-GnRH titer was evident at slaughter in all immunized bulls. However, the final immune response of bulls immunized at 1.5 mo was significantly lower than the response of bulls immunized at later stages of development. Final scrotal circumference and testis weight in bulls immunized at 4, 7, or 12 mo of age were significantly reduced relative to unimmunized bulls. The final live weight, feedlot gain, and carcass weight of immunized and unimmunized bulls did not differ (P > .05) from the same parameters in steers implanted with Synovex. Longissimus muscle area, marbling score, and backfat thickness did not differ between immunized and unimmunized bulls. The sex class score of the carcasses of immunized bulls did not differ from the score of steer carcasses. In contrast, a significantly higher proportion of carcasses from unimmunized bulls graded as bullock carcasses. Taken together, these data indicate that a single immunization against GnRH at 4 to 12 mo of age results in significant attenuation of testicular growth in bulls. These data also demonstrate that immunization against GnRH reduces the masculinity of carcasses from bulls, but does not affect feedlot performance, longissimus muscle area, marbling score, or backfat thickness. These results suggest that single immunization with the GnRH-KLH conjugate may have practical utility as a noninvasive alternative to surgical castration in management of beef cattle.

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