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Anim Reprod Sci. 2009 Nov;116(1-2):107-18. doi: 10.1016/j.anireprosci.2008.12.008. Epub 2008 Dec 24.

Reproductive performance of donor mares subsequent to eFSH treatment in early vernal transition: Comparison between the first, second, and mid-season estrous cycles of the breeding season.

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Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Canada.


The objective was to compare the reproductive performances associated with the first (Cycle-1), second (Cycle-2), and mid-season (MS-Cycle) ovulations of the breeding season in donor mares that were treated with equine-FSH (eFSH) in the early vernal transition. Mares (n=15) kept under ambient light were examined ultrasonographically per-rectum starting January 30. When an ovarian follicle > or =25mm in diameter was detected, twice daily eFSH treatments were initiated. The eFSH treatments ceased when a follicle > or =35mm was detected, and 36h later hCG was administered. Thereafter, mares were artificially inseminated every 48h until ovulation (Day 0). Trans-cervical embryo recovery attempts were performed on Day 8, and subsequently PGF2alpha was administered. Equine FSH was not administered in the subsequent estrous cycles. In Cycle-2 and in the MS-Cycle, hCG was administered when a follicle > or =35mm was detected; breeding, embryo recovery, and PGF2alpha administration, were similar to Cycle-1. Mares had an untreated estrous cycle (no treatment or breeding) between Cycle-2 and the MS-Cycle. All mares developed follicle(s) > or =35mm after 4.9+/-0.6 days of eFSH treatment, and subsequently ovulations occurred; mean (95% CI) interval from treatment initiation to ovulation was 7.9 (6.5-9.3) days. The number of preovulatory follicles (> or =30mm) at the time of hCG administration (Cycle-1: 2.2+/-0.3 compared with Cycle-2: 1.0+/-0 compared with MS-Cycle: 1.1+/-0.1 follicles), and the number of ovulations (2.5+/-0.4 compared with 1.0+/-0 compared with 1.1+/-0.1 ovulations) were greater (p<0.05) in Cycle-1. Nevertheless, mean embryo numbers did not differ among cycles (0.8+/-0.2 compared with 0.5+/-0.1 compared with 0.5+/-0.1 embryo/mare). On average, embryo morphology grade was less (p<0.05) in Cycle-1 as compared to non-eFSH cycles (combined Cycle-2 and MS-Cycle). This impaired embryo quality could be due to a seasonal effect, or negative effect of the eFSH treatment, which was possibly related to alterations in the hormonal environment (estradiol-17beta and progesterone). A prolonged IOI (>21 days) was recorded in 7 of 15 mares following the Cycle-1 ovulation, but not subsequently. In conclusion, eFSH treatment of vernal transitional donor mares stimulated ovulation within only few days of treatment, and the following embryo recovery rate was at least as good as in the subsequent estrous cycles; however, on average, embryos were morphologically impaired. In subsequent estrous cycles in the breeding season, ovulations, embryo recovery rates, and embryo variables did not appear to be negatively affected; however, the first inter-ovulatory interval of the breeding season was prolonged in approximately half of the mares.

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