Evaluation of a fixed-time artificial insemination protocol for postpartum suckled beef cows.
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Treatment with melengestrol acetate (MGA), an oral progestin, prior to administration of gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) and prostaglandin F2alpha (PG) effectively synchronizes estrus and maintains high fertility in postpartum beef cows. The objective of this experiment was to determine whether treatment with MGA prior to a GnRH-PG-GnRH protocol would improve pregnancy rates resulting from fixed-time artificial insemination (AI). Multiparous crossbred beef cows at two University of Missouri-Columbia farms (n = 90 and n = 137) were assigned by age and days postpartum to one of two treatments. Cows were fed carrier (1.8 kg x animal(-1) x d(-1)) with or without MGA (0.278 mg x kg(-1)) for 14 d. All cows were administered GnRH (100 microg; intramuscularly) on d 12 after MGA or carrier withdrawal and 7 d before PG (25 mg; intramuscularly). All cows received a second injection of GnRH and AI 72 h after PG. Mean days postpartum for MGA and control cows at the initiation of treatment were 39.6 and 38.9 d for herd 1; and 51.9 and 50.9 d for herd 2, respectively (P > 0.70 within herds). Blood samples were collected from all cows at 10 and 1 d before the feeding of MGA or carrier began and at the times GnRH and PG were administered. Concentrations of progesterone in serum at the initiation of treatment were elevated (>1 ng/mL) in 0% of MGA and 7% of control cows in herd 1, and 54% of MGA and 49% of control cows in herd 2 (P > 0.05 within herds). Pregnancy rates to fixed-time AI were determined by transrectal ultrasonography 50 d after AI. Pregnancy rates in herd 1 were 58% (26/45) and 51% (23/45) for MGA-treated and control cows, respectively (P = 0.52), and 63% (44/70) and 45% (30/67) for MGA-treated and control cows in herd 2, respectively (P = 0.03). Differences in pregnancy rates to fixed-time AI were significant (P = 0.04) when data from the two herds were combined (with MGA = 70/115 [61%]; control = 53/112 [47%]). There was no difference (P > 0.20) in final pregnancy rates (timed AI plus 45 d exposure to bulls) between treatments, within herds, or when herds were combined. In summary, pregnancy rates resulting from fixed-time AI may be improved with treatment of MGA prior to a GnRH-PG-GnRH protocol.