Mechanical masking of neurosensory pathways at the calf-teat interface: endocrine, reproductive and lactational features of the suckled anestrous cow. Academic Article uri icon


  • A mammary somatosensory mask was employed in suckled anestrous beef cows to attenuate signals that were hypothesized to play a direct regulatory role in postpartum anestrus. Cows (n = 20) were randomly assigned to one of three treatment groups on Days 15 to 20 postcalving. The three treatments were: 1) masked (n = 7); 2) suckled (negative control, n = 6); and 3) weaned (positive control, n = 7). Four layers of surgical glove latex were used to cover the teats and ventro-lateral prominence of the udder of masked cows with a nonhardening, nontoxic adhesive (Day 0). Masks were designed to prevent direct contact between the skin of the teat/udder and the mouth of the calf and to allow normal suckling and milk removal. Masks were left in place for 7 d, with calves in the weaned group removed to a remote location for 7 d. Calves in the suckled group were allowed ad libitum suckling. Calves in the masked group tended (P < 0.1) to suckle longer than calves in the suckled control group (11.3 +/- 1.3 vs. 7.8 +/- 1.3 min/suckle) posttreatment; however, suckling frequency and calf weight gains did not differ due to treatment. Weaned cows exhibited a four-fold increase (P < 0.01) in the frequency of luteinizing hormone (LH) pulses on Day 2 relative to suckled and masked cows. The percentage of animals ovulating within 12 d after treatment differed (P < 0.05) and was 100, 50 and 0% for weaned, suckled and masked cows, respectively. Presence of the latex mask allowed essentially normal suckling and lactation, but failed to attenuate (and may have potentiated) the negative effects of suckling on secretory patterns of LH, ovulation and estrus.

published proceedings

  • Theriogenology

author list (cited authors)

  • McVey, W. R., & Williams, G. L.

citation count

  • 29

complete list of authors

  • McVey, WR||Williams, GL

publication date

  • May 1991