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J Dairy Sci. 2019 Jul;102(7):6639-6648. doi: 10.3168/jds.2018-15245. Epub 2019 Apr 25.

Genomic merit for reproductive traits. II: Physiological responses of Holstein heifers.

Author information

1
Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences, University of Florida, Gainesville 32610.
2
Department of Animal Sciences, University of Florida, Gainesville 32610.
3
Department of Animal Science, Texas A&M University, College Station 77845.
4
Merck Animal Health, Madison, NJ 07940.
5
Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences, University of Florida, Gainesville 32610; Department of Animal Sciences, University of Florida, Gainesville 32610. Electronic address: rcchebel@ufl.edu.

Abstract

Fertility traits were recently added to the evaluation of genetic merit, allowing for the selection of Holstein cattle with improved reproductive performance. In the current study, we investigated the associations among genomic merit for daughter pregnancy rate (GDPR) and heifer conception rate (GHCR) and physiological responses during proestrus and diestrus. Holstein heifers (n = 99) were classified based on GDPR [high = 3.26 ± 0.76 (1.6 to 5.3), n = 48; low = -0.17 ± 0.75 (-1.8 to 1.0), n = 51] and GHCR [high = 2.75 ± 0.77 (1.5 to 5.5), n = 49; low = 0.06 ± 0.67 (-2.1 to 1.2), n = 50]. Heifers were fitted with an automated estrous detection device, were treated with PGF for synchronization of estrus, and received either artificial insemination or embryo transfer at detected estrus. Blood was sampled at the time of PGF treatment, within 24 h of the onset of estrus (d 0), and on d 7, 14, 19 ± 2, 28, and 35. Blood samples from all heifers were analyzed for concentrations of estradiol (d 0) and progesterone (on the day of PGF treatment and d 0, 7, and 14). Blood samples from heifers pregnant on d 38 ± 3 were analyzed for concentrations of progesterone (d 0, 7, 14, 19 ± 2, 28, and 35), pregnancy-specific protein B (d 19 ± 2, 28, and 35), and insulin-like growth factor 1 (d 0, 7, 14, 19 ± 2, 28, and 35). Expression of mRNA for interferon-stimulated gene 15 in peripheral leukocytes isolated from blood collected on d 19 ± 2 was determined. Ovaries were scanned by ultrasound daily from d 0 to 4 or until ovulation was detected. Heifers with low GHCR tended to be less likely to be detected in estrus (78.0 vs. 91.8%). Estradiol concentration on d 0 was greater for heifers with high GDPR (4.53 ± 0.23 vs. 3.79 ± 0.23 pg/mL). The ovulatory follicle was larger for heifers with high GDPR (16.28 ± 0.33 vs. 14.55 ± 0.35 mm), whereas heifers with high GHCR tended to have smaller ovulatory follicles (15.00 ± 0.31 vs. 15.83 ± 0.37 mm). Heifers with high GDPR tended to be more likely to ovulate within 96 h of the onset of estrus (90.7 vs. 75.0%). Among heifers pregnant on d 38 ± 3, GDPR and GHCR were not associated with mRNA expression for interferon-stimulated gene 15. Heifers with high GDPR had greater concentration of pregnancy-specific protein B from d 28 to 35 (3.03 ± 0.15 vs. 2.48 ± 0.1 ng/mL). Heifers with high GHCR tended to have greater insulin-like growth factor 1 concentration from d 7 to 35 (108.0 ± 3.2 vs. 97.7 ± 4.2 ng/mL). Our results suggest that selection for Holstein cattle for GDPR may have positive effects on reproductive performance through changes in ovarian follicle development and steroidogenesis. Although selection of Holstein cattle for GHCR may negatively affect estrous expression by affecting ovarian follicle growth, selection for GHCR may improve reproductive performance by altering the somatotropic axis.

KEYWORDS:

dairy heifer; genomic merit; reproductive physiology

PMID:
31030930
DOI:
10.3168/jds.2018-15245
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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