Fertility-associated antigen on bull sperm indicates fertility potential.
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A 30-kDa heparin-binding protein named fertility-associated antigen (FAA) was identified in sperm membranes of beef bulls with greater fertility potential. In a survey of 2,191 beef bulls, 88% had FAA present in sperm membranes (FAA-positive), and 12% were FAA-negative. In the first study, 54 Santa Gertrudis and 51 Santa Cruz bulls were grouped (1 to 14 bulls per group) according to FAA profiles and were bred to 2,403 cows at ratios of 1 bull: 25 cows. Fertility for 14 groups of FAA-positive bulls averaged 88%, whereas three groups of FAA-negative bulls impregnated 79% of the cows. Thus, FAA-positive bulls were nine percentage points more (P < .01) fertile than FAA-negative bulls. In the second study, 2-yr-old Santa Cruz bulls (n = 26) were grouped according to FAA profiles and serving capacity. The fertility of the group of 12 high-serving-capacity, FAA-positive bulls was 87% of 270 cows. The group of six FAA-negative bulls with high serving capacity impregnated 78% of 143 cows. Among the groups of bulls with high serving capacity, FAA-positive bulls were nine percentage points more (P < .05) fertile than FAA-negative bulls. The group of eight FAA-positive bulls with low serving capacity impregnated the least (P < .01) percentage (69%) of 238 cows. Serving capacity of bulls should be considered when optimizing fertility potential. Among bulls with acceptable physical characteristics and serving capacity, determination of FAA profiles in sperm can be used as a tool to identify subfertile bulls.