Follicular Dynamics, Interval to Ovulation and Fertility After AI in Short-Term Progesterone and PGF2α Oestrous Synchronization Protocol in Sheep

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The study was aimed to assess the influence that short-term progesterone treatments have on follicular dynamics, oestrus and ovulation in sheep. The treatment was tested thereafter in a field trial to assess its fertility after AI with fresh semen. In a first experiment, 12 ewes without CL were grouped to receive a new (n = 6) or used CIDR (n = 6) for 7 days and blood samples were obtained to follow plasma progesterone profiles. In a second experiment, 39 cycling ewes were synchronized by a 7-day P4+PGF2α protocol using a new (n = 20) or a 7-day used CIDR (n = 19). Half of both groups received 400 IU eCG and half remained untreated as controls. Ultrasound ovarian examination and oestrous detection were used to compare follicular dynamics, oestrus and ovulation in both groups. In a third experiment, 288 ewes in 3 farms were synchronized by the short-term P4+PGF2α+eCG protocol and ewes were AI with fresh semen 24 h after oestrous detection. Lambing performance was used to test the fertility of the treatment. In Experiment 1, ewes with new inserts presented higher P4 concentration than ewes with used inserts throughout the sampling period (p < 0.05) and exhibited a P4 peak at days 1–2 of the treatment that was not observed in ewes with used inserts. In Experiment 2, ewes treated with new and used inserts show similar ovarian and behavioral traits (p > 0.10). However, ewes treated with eCG show shorter interval to oestrus (p = 0.004) and tend to have larger mature CL (p = 0.06). In Experiment 3, oestrous presentation and lambing performance after AI with fresh semen was considered normal compared to published results. Results suggest that the oestrous synchronization protocol based on P4+PGF2α allows little control of follicular dynamics without compromising fertility after AI with fresh semen provided that eCG is added at the end of the treatment.

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