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The adrenal cortex is believed to be implicated in the high incidence of abortion in the Angora goat. Stimulation testing with adrenocorticotrophic hormone (ACTH) was used to assess the adrenal cortical function in 5 Angora does from herds with a history of abortion and 5 non-Angora does. An acute test involving a single intramuscular (i.m.) injection of 0.25 mg of synthetic ACTH was given during anoestrus, at mid-oestrus, on day 90 and on day 120 of gestation. Blood samples were collected from the jugular vein at 30 min intervals for 1 h before and 5 h after injection. Cortisol concentrations rose within 30 min and returned to baseline values within 3.5 h. Cortisol production was lower (p < 0.01) in the pregnant state compared to the non-pregnant state in both groups. Production of cortisol was consistently lower (p < 0.05) in the Angora does compared to the non-Angora does during anoestrus and pregnancy and marginally so at mid-oestrus. A chronic stimulation test involving once daily injections of 0.5 mg of a depot form of ACTH i.m. for 7 days commencing on day 90 of pregnancy was also conducted. Cortisol concentrations rose to reach a peak on the third day of treatment in both groups. The values then declined in the Angora does despite continued ACTH treatment, while those for the non-Angora does exhibited a second peak. During and following this treatment, two non-Angora does delivered live kids (day 95, day 120). Out of 7 Angora pregnancies, one Angora doe aborted two dead fetuses at day 116. No significant difference in the cortisol response in the acute test was detected between the animals that aborted and their respective cohorts, but the two non-Angora does that aborted had significantly lower cortisol concentrations during depot ACTH administration. Progesterone and oestradiol levels did not differ between Angora and non-Angora animals during pregnancy or on the test days. The results suggest that the steroidogenic response of the adrenal cortex to ACTH stimulation is significantly less in Angora does with a history of abortion than it is in non-Angora does and support the view that the Angora goat would make a more limited adrenal cortical response to a stressful occurrence during pregnancy.

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