Effect of progesterone concentrations, follicle diameter, timing of artificial insemination, and ovulatory stimulus on pregnancy rate to synchronized artificial insemination in postpubertal Nellore heifers.
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Two experiments were designed to evaluate the effects of treatments with low versus high serum progesterone (P4) concentrations on factors associated with pregnancy success in postpubertal Nellore heifers submitted to either conventional or fixed timed artificial insemination (FTAI). Heifers were synchronized with a new controlled internal drug release device (CIDR; 1.9 g of P4 [CIDR1]) or a CIDR previously used for 18 days (CIDR3) plus 2 mg of estradiol (E2) benzoate on Day 0 and 12.5 mg of prostaglandin F2 on Day 7. In experiment 1 (n = 723), CIDR were removed on Day 7 or 9 and heifers were inseminated after estrus detection. In experiment 2 (n = 1083), CIDR were all removed on Day 9 and FTAI was performed either 48 hours later in heifers that received E2 cypionate (ECP) on Day 9 (0.5 mg; E48) or 54 or 72 hours later in conjunction with administration of GnRH (100 g; G54 or G72). Synchronization with CIDR1 resulted in greater serum P4 concentrations and smaller follicle diameters on Days 7 and 9 in both experiments. In experiment 1, treatment with CIDR for 9 days decreased the interval from CIDR removal to estrus (Day 7, 3.76 0.08 days vs. Day 9, 2.90 0.07; P < 0.01) and improved conception (Day 7, 57.1% vs. Day 9, 65.8%; P = 0.05) and pregnancy rates (Day 7, 37.6% vs. Day 9, 45.3%; P = 0.04). In experiment 2, treatment with ECP improved (P < 0.01) the proportion of heifers in estrus (E48, 40.9%(a); G54, 17.1%(c); and G72, 32.0%(b)), but the pregnancy rate was not affected (P = 0.64) by treatments (E48, 38.8%; G54, 35.5%; G72, 37.5%). Synchronization with CIDR3 increased follicle diameter at FTAI (CIDR1, 11.07 0.10 vs. CIDR3, 11.61 0.10 mm; P < 0.01), ovulation rate (CIDR1, 82.8% vs. CIDR3, 88.0%; P < 0.01) and did not affect conception (CIDR1, 42.2 vs. CIDR3, 45.1%; P = 0.38) or pregnancy rates (CIDR1, 34.7 vs. CIDR3, 39.4%; P = 0.11). In conclusion, length of treatment with P4 affected the fertility of heifers bred based on estrus detection. When the heifers were submitted to FTAI protocol, follicle diameter at FTAI (10.7 mm, 23.6%; 10.8-15.7 mm, 51.5%; 15.8 mm, 30.0%; P < 0.01) was the main factor that affected conception and pregnancy rates.