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J Dairy Sci. 1998 Aug;81(8):2124-31.

Effects of controlled heat stress on ovarian function of dairy cattle. 1. Lactating cows.

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Department of Animal Sciences, University of Missouri, Columbia 65211, USA.


The objective of this experiment was to determine the effects of controlled heat stress on ovarian function of lactating dairy cows. Estrus was synchronized (estrus = d 0), and cows were randomly assigned to either heat stress (n = 11; 29 degrees C, 60% relative humidity) or thermoneutral (n = 11; 19 degrees C, 60% relative humidity) treatment. For cows undergoing heat stress, ambient temperature (19 degrees C) was increased from d 11 to 13 of the estrous cycle (3.3 degrees C/d increase) and remained at 29 degrees C until d 21. Beginning on d 11, the growth and regression of ovarian follicles and corpora lutea were measured by using ultrasonography. Blood was collected daily by coccygeal venipuncture for measurement of serum concentrations of progesterone and estradiol. The second wave dominant follicle was more likely to ovulate in cows in the thermoneutral treatment than in cows undergoing heat stress (91 vs. 18% ovulation, respectively). Patterns of follicular growth in cows under-going heat stress were associated with decreased serum estradiol from d 11 to 21 and on the day of luteolysis. The average day of luteolysis was delayed by 9 d in heat-stressed cows. Conclusions were that follicular growth and development and luteolytic mechanisms were compromised in heat-stressed cows; as a result, luteolysis was delayed, and second wave dominant follicles did not ovulate.

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