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Theriogenology. 1999 Nov;52(7):1133-43.

Effect of milk production on the incidence of double ovulation in dairy cows.

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  • 1Department of Dairy Science, University of Wisconsin-Madison 53706, USA.


To determine the effect of parity and milk production on the incidence of double ovulation, the synchronization of ovulation, using GnRH and prostaglandin F2 alpha followed by timed AI (Ovsynch), was initiated at a random stage of the estrous cycle in lactating Holstein cows (n = 237). Ovulatory response at 48 h after the second GnRH injection and conception rate at 28 d post AI were determined by transrectal ultrasonography. Ovulation was synchronized in 84% of cows receiving the Ovsynch protocol. Of the synchronized cows, 14.1% exhibited a double ovulation and 47.6% conceived. Conception rate tended to be greater (P = 0.08) for cows exhibiting double (64.0%) rather than single ovulation (45.2%). To determine the effect of milk production on the incidence of double ovulation, cows were classified into low (< or = 40 kg/d) or high (> 40 kg/d) milk production groups based on the average milk production of 40.5 +/- 0.8 kg/d collected 2 d before AI. Although the incidence of double ovulation tended to increase linearly (P = 0.09) with increasing parity, the incidence of double ovulation was nearly 3-fold greater (P < 0.05) for cows in the high (20.2%) than the low (6.9%) milk production group. Furthermore, the increase in the incidence of double ovulation with parity apparently occurred because, within a parity group, the proportion of cows with high milk production was greater for the older cows. Twinning rate of cows that calved (n = 58) was 5.2%. In a secondary objective, cows were retrospectively classified as cystic or normal based on ultrasonographic ovarian morphology at the time of the second GnRH injection. Incidence of ovarian cysts was 11%, and the synchronization and conception rate of cows classified as cystic was 73.1 and 36.8%, respectively, which did not differ from that of normal cows. We conclude that milk production is the primary factor affecting the incidence of double ovulation in lactating dairy cows and may explain the effect of parity on twinning rate. In addition, Ovsynch appears to be an effective method for establishing pregnancy in lactating dairy cows with ovarian cysts.

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