Physiological and hormonal aspects in female domestic pigeons (Columba livia) associated with breeding stage and experience

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The present study examined the changes in serum biochemical values, hormone profiles and ovary prolactin receptor (PRLR) gene expression occurring in female domestic pigeons (Columba livia) under different breeding status and experience. The egg-laying pigeons had lower calcium, total protein, albumin, prolactin levels and higher oestrogen levels than those of incubating birds (p < 0.05). First-time breeders had higher (p < 0.05) progesterone levels and lower (p < 0.05) prolactin levels than that of experienced ones. The levels of oestrogen and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) increased with age (p < 0.05). The very old birds showed a pronounced increase (p < 0.05) in PRL, FSH and progesterone and a little decrease in oestrogen. Serum prolactin level was not correlated with the ovary PRLR mRNA expression pattern among all the pigeons. Results showed that serum physiological profile of female pigeons was correlated with breeding status, whereas reproductive hormone levels were correlated with advancing breeding experience. It was concluded that female pigeons had a good ability of recovering from nutrient loss after each breeding attempts, and the degradation of reproductive performance might be attributed to changes in the endocrine system.

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