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Theriogenology. 2005 Sep 15;64(5):1212-24. Epub 2005 Apr 7.

Post-insemination milk progesterone concentration and embryo survival in dairy cows.

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Animal Reproduction Department, Teagasc Research Centre, Athenry, Co., Galway, Ireland.


Logistic regression analysis was used to evaluate the relationship between post-insemination milk progesterone concentration and embryo survival, and between milk yield and milk progesterone concentration. Milk samples were collected on Days 1, 4, 5, 6, and 7 (insemination=Day 0) following 871 inseminations in spring-calving dairy cows. Milk progesterone concentrations were measured by enzyme-immunoassay and pregnancy diagnosis was conducted with transrectal ultrasonography at approximately Day 30. There was a negative linear relationship (P<0.01) between milk progesterone concentration on Day 4 and embryo survival while, in contrast, there was a positive linear and quadratic relationship between milk progesterone concentration on Days 5, 6 and 7 (P<0.05) and also between the rate of change in progesterone concentrations between Days 4 and 7 inclusive and embryo survival (P<0.05). There was a weak negative linear relationship between average daily milk yield at the time of insemination and milk progesterone concentrations (P<0.001). There was no association between many production parameters, including liveweight and body condition score measured at various stages between calving and insemination, and milk progesterone concentration between Days 4 and 7 inclusive (P>0.05). In conclusion, low progesterone during Days 5-7 (after insemination) was associated with low fertility in dairy cows and there were indications of a range of progesterone concentrations within which embryo survival was maximal.

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