Influence of estrus at fixed-time artificial insemination on early embryonic development in beef cattle.
Additional Document Info
It has been repeatedly demonstrated that estrous expression before fixed-time AI (TAI) results in increased pregnancy success. Therefore, the objective of this experiment was to determine if preblastocyst embryonic developmental characteristics differed from heifers that did or did not exhibit estrus before TAI. Beef heifers (n = 113) were synchronized using the 5-d CO-Synch + controlled internal drug release device with TAI on d 0. Before TAI, estrous expression was assessed twice daily. On d 6, single embryos were collected and visually evaluated to determine quality (International Embryo Transfer Society standards; 1-4, in which 1 = excellent/good and 4 = degenerate) and stage (1-9, in which 1 = unfertilized and 9 = expanded hatched blastocyst). Embryos were stained and evaluated to determine number of dead blastomeres, number of total blastomeres, and number of accessory sperm. Estrous expression before TAI did not affect the percent of embryos recovered (P = 0.59), number of dead cells (P = 0.99), or number of total cells (P = 0.25). However, heifers that exhibited estrus had increased mean (P = 0.03) and median accessory sperm numbers and (P = 0.01) percent live cells when compared with nonestrus heifers. Heifers that exhibited estrus also produced embryos that had a more advanced stage (P = 0.03) and improved quality (P = 0.04) when compared with those heifers not exhibiting estrus. When all heifers were evaluated, there was no correlation between circulating concentration of estradiol at TAI and embryo quality or embryo stage. There was a significant correlation between accessory sperm numbers and embryo quality (P = 0.01) and embryo stage (P < 0.01), such that as accessory sperm numbers increased, embryo quality and stage increased. In conclusion, exhibiting estrus before TAI resulted in improved embryo quality and advanced embryo stage on d 6 and increased the number of accessory sperm associated with the embryo.