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Anim Reprod Sci. 2005 Apr;86(3-4):175-86.

The relationship between secretory patterns of gonadotrophic hormones and the attainment of puberty in bull and heifer calves born early or late during the spring calving season.

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  • 1Department of Veterinary Biomedical Sciences, Western College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Saskatchewan, 52 Campus Drive, Saskatoon, SK, Canada S7N 5B4.


It was suggested that an early increase in gonadotrophin secretion in calves aged between 6 and 24 weeks might be critical for initiating developmental changes culminating in puberty. An early rise in luteinizing hormone (LH) release appears to be caused by an increase in LH pulse frequency in bull calves and by an increase in LH pulse amplitude in heifer calves. Previously we have found differences in the characteristics of the LH rise between prepubertal beef calves born in spring or fall; however, age at puberty was not affected by season of birth. Here we report the LH/FSH secretory patterns in prepubertal bull and heifer calves (Hereford x Charolais), born in March or April, respectively (i.e., early or late during the spring calving season; six animals of each sex born at each time). The bull calves of both groups reached puberty (defined as an attainment of scrotal circumference of >or=28 cm) at 43.2+/-1.3 weeks of age (P>0.05). Age at puberty for March- and April-born heifer calves (defined as the age at which serum progesterone concentrations first exceeded 0.4 ng/ml) averaged 56.0+/-1.4 weeks (P>0.05). Based on blood samples taken weekly from birth to 26 weeks of age, and then every other week until puberty, bull calves born in March exceeded April-born bull calves in mean serum LH concentrations at 6, 10 and 12 weeks of age (P<0.05). Mean FSH concentrations were greater (P<0.05) in March-born compared to April-born bull calves from 34 to 32 weeks before puberty. Mean serum LH (at 40, 42 and 56 weeks) and FSH concentrations (at 2, 10, 20, 22-26, 30 and 56 weeks of age) were greater (P<0.05) in heifer calves born in April than March. On the basis of frequent blood sampling (every 12 min for 10 h), heifer calves born in April exceeded March-born animals in mean LH and FSH concentrations, at 5 and 25 weeks, and LH pulse frequency, at 5, 10 and 25 weeks of age (P<0.05). None of the parameters of LH secretion (i.e., mean concentrations of LH, LH pulse frequency and amplitude based on frequent blood collection) differed between March- and April-born bull calves in this study (P>0.05). In summary, March-born bull calves had greater mean serum LH and FSH concentrations prior to 24 weeks of age than April-born calves. April-born heifer calves had greater mean serum concentrations of LH and FSH but this difference was not confined to the early postnatal period. Although there were significant differences in absolute amounts of LH secreted, there were no differences in the frequency of LH secretory pulses amongst March- and April-born bull calves and no differences in LH pulse amplitude in heifer calves born in March or April. As these particular parameters of LH secretion, as well as age at puberty, are not affected by the time or season of birth, they may be primary hormonal cues governing sexual development in bulls and heifers, respectively.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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