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RFD is the official journal of the International Embryo Transfer Society and the Society for Reproductive Biology.


Article << Previous     |     Next >>   Contents Vol 22(1)

Factors affecting fertilisation and early embryo quality in single- and superovulated dairy cattle

Roberto Sartori A D, Michele R. Bastos B, Milo C. Wiltbank C

A Department of Animal Science, University of São Paulo (USP), Piracicaba, SP 13418-900, Brazil.
B Department of Animal Reproduction and Veterinary Radiology, São Paulo State University (UNESP), Botucatu, SP 18618-000, Brazil.
C Department of Dairy Science, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI 53706, USA.
D Corresponding author. Email: sartori@esalq.usp.br
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Data on fertilisation and embryo quality in dairy cattle are presented and the main factors responsible for the low fertility of single-ovulating lactating cows and embryo yield in superovulated dairy cattle are highlighted. During the past 50 years, the fertility in high-producing lactating dairy cattle has decreased as milk production increased. Recent data show conception rates to first service to be approximately 32% in lactating cows, whereas in heifers it has remained above 50%. Fertilisation does not seem to be the principal factor responsible for the low fertility in single-ovulating cows, because it has remained above 80%. Conversely, early embryonic development is impaired in high-producing dairy cows, as observed by most embryonic losses occurring during the first week after fertilisation. However, in superovulated dairy cattle, although fertilisation failure is more pronounced, averaging approximately 45%, the percentage of fertilised embryos viable at 1 week is quite high (>70%). Among the multifactorial causes of low fertility in lactating dairy cows, high feed intake associated with low concentrations of circulating steroids may contribute substantially to reduced embryo quality. Fertilisation failure in superovulated cattle may be a consequence of inappropriate gamete transport due to hormonal imbalances.

Keywords: bovine, fertility, nutrition, reproductive hormones, stress.

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