Monitoring ovarian cycle and conception by fecal progesterone analysis in sika deer

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Abstract

The ovarian cycle and conception of sika deer were studied to reveal factors responsible for delayed conception. Concentration of progesterone in feces from 12 female Hokkaido sika deer (Cervus nippon yesoensis Heude, 1884) was measured during the mating season in 2000. The cyclic pattern of fecal progesterone synchronized with estrous symptoms, which could hence be interpreted as indicating ovarian cycle. All observed females ovulated by 14 October. However, during the early mating season, females did not permit copulation at ovulation, and the length of luteal phase following ovulation without estrus was 9.8 ± 4.6 days (5-24 days). Most females conceived at the first copulation, which were confirmed by progesterone profiles that was sustained at a high level after the copulation. This indicates the presence of a functional corpus luteum, a state of pregnancy. Thus, some females had repeated ovulation without copulation several times, creating a 3-4 week variation in the timing of conception. But some females conceived very late in the mating season after the repetition of ovulation and copulation.

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