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Reproductive performance of Lacaune dairy sheep exposed to artificial long days followed by natural photoperiod without and with additional progestagen treatment during the nonbreeding season


Fleisch, A; Bollwein, H; Piechotta, M; Janett, F (2015). Reproductive performance of Lacaune dairy sheep exposed to artificial long days followed by natural photoperiod without and with additional progestagen treatment during the nonbreeding season. Theriogenology, 83(3):320-325.

Abstract

This study compared the reproductive performance of Lacaune dairy ewes exposed to a light program and subsequent male introduction without (n = 36) or with (n = 36) an additional 6-day progestagen treatment during the nonbreeding season. All ewes were exposed to extended day length (16 hours light and 8 hours darkness) for 77 days during winter (December 15 until March 2) followed by increasing natural photoperiod. At the end of the photoperiodic treatment, three blood samples were collected 6 days apart for progesterone (P4) analysis to determine cyclic activity. One half of the ewes were additionally subjected to a 6-day progestagen treatment in combination with PGF2α and eCG at insert withdrawal. Rams fitted with marking harnesses were introduced to females for 45 days and marked ewes recorded. Ewes exposed to the light program only were joined 40 days after the end of photoperiodic treatment, and ewes with additional progestagen treatment were joined 1 day after insert removal (40-44 days after the end of photostimulation). Lambing data were recorded and fertility (percentage of ewes lambing, lambing rate, and litter size) assessed to the first service period and overall. Mean serum P4 concentrations were similarly (P > 0.05) low in both groups (0.4-0.7 ng/mL vs. 0.4-0.6 ng/mL). On the basis of elevated P4 levels (>1 ng/mL), evidence of luteal activity was found in 27.8% of the ewes at the end of the light program. Estrus response was equally high (97.2%) and estrus distribution highly synchronized in progestagen-treated ewes (91.7% within 4 days). In ewes exposed to the light program only, estrous activity was recorded within 4 days (six ewes), from Day 8 to Day 17 (17 ewes) and from Day 19 to Day 25 (12 ewes) after joining. The percentage of ewes that lambed to the first service period was higher (P < 0.05) in ewes exposed to the light program only than that in the group additionally treated with progestagen/PGF2α/eCG (94.4% vs. 69.4%). Overall, the percentage of lambing ewes was similar in both groups (97.2% and 94.4%), and lambing rates (1.4-1.9) and litter sizes (1.9-2.1) were high and not influenced (P > 0.05) by the treatment. In conclusion, this study reports that exposition of Lacaune ewes to artificial long days followed by natural day length and male introduction is highly effective to induce fertile estrous activity during the nonbreeding season and offers a reliable and practical alternative to hormonal manipulation for out-of-season breeding in sheep.

Abstract

This study compared the reproductive performance of Lacaune dairy ewes exposed to a light program and subsequent male introduction without (n = 36) or with (n = 36) an additional 6-day progestagen treatment during the nonbreeding season. All ewes were exposed to extended day length (16 hours light and 8 hours darkness) for 77 days during winter (December 15 until March 2) followed by increasing natural photoperiod. At the end of the photoperiodic treatment, three blood samples were collected 6 days apart for progesterone (P4) analysis to determine cyclic activity. One half of the ewes were additionally subjected to a 6-day progestagen treatment in combination with PGF2α and eCG at insert withdrawal. Rams fitted with marking harnesses were introduced to females for 45 days and marked ewes recorded. Ewes exposed to the light program only were joined 40 days after the end of photoperiodic treatment, and ewes with additional progestagen treatment were joined 1 day after insert removal (40-44 days after the end of photostimulation). Lambing data were recorded and fertility (percentage of ewes lambing, lambing rate, and litter size) assessed to the first service period and overall. Mean serum P4 concentrations were similarly (P > 0.05) low in both groups (0.4-0.7 ng/mL vs. 0.4-0.6 ng/mL). On the basis of elevated P4 levels (>1 ng/mL), evidence of luteal activity was found in 27.8% of the ewes at the end of the light program. Estrus response was equally high (97.2%) and estrus distribution highly synchronized in progestagen-treated ewes (91.7% within 4 days). In ewes exposed to the light program only, estrous activity was recorded within 4 days (six ewes), from Day 8 to Day 17 (17 ewes) and from Day 19 to Day 25 (12 ewes) after joining. The percentage of ewes that lambed to the first service period was higher (P < 0.05) in ewes exposed to the light program only than that in the group additionally treated with progestagen/PGF2α/eCG (94.4% vs. 69.4%). Overall, the percentage of lambing ewes was similar in both groups (97.2% and 94.4%), and lambing rates (1.4-1.9) and litter sizes (1.9-2.1) were high and not influenced (P > 0.05) by the treatment. In conclusion, this study reports that exposition of Lacaune ewes to artificial long days followed by natural day length and male introduction is highly effective to induce fertile estrous activity during the nonbreeding season and offers a reliable and practical alternative to hormonal manipulation for out-of-season breeding in sheep.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:05 Vetsuisse Faculty > Veterinary Clinic > Department of Farm Animals
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
630 Agriculture
Language:English
Date:February 2015
Deposited On:13 Feb 2015 08:17
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 19:06
Publisher:Elsevier
ISSN:0093-691X
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.theriogenology.2014.06.031
PubMed ID:25468556

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