Administration of human chorionic gonadotropin to suckled beef cows before ovulation synchronization and fixed-time insemination: replacement of gonadotropin-releasing hormone with human chorionic gonadotropin.
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Two experiments were conducted to evaluate whether hCG administered 7 d before initiating the CO-Synch + controlled internal drug release (CIDR) ovulation synchronization protocol (Exp. 1 and 2), or replacing GnRH with hCG at the time of AI (Exp. 1), would improve fertility to a fixed-time AI (TAI) in suckled beef cows. In addition, the effects of hCG on follicle dynamics, corpus luteum development, and concentrations of progesterone (P4) were evaluated. In Exp. 1, cows were stratified by days postpartum, age, and parity and assigned randomly to a 2 2 factorial arrangement of 4 treatments: 1) cows received 100 g of GnRH at CIDR insertion (d -7) and 25 mg of PGF(2) at CIDR removal (d 0), followed in 64 to 68 h by a TAI plus a second injection of GnRH at TAI (CG; n = 29); 2) same as CG but the second injection of GnRH at the time of insemination was replaced by hCG (CH; n = 28); 3) same as CG, but cows received hCG 7 d (d -14) before CIDR insertion (HG; n = 28); and 4) same as HG, but cows received hCG 7 d (d -14) before CIDR insertion (HH; n = 29). Pregnancy rates were 52, 41, 59, and 38% for GG, GH, HG, and HH, respectively. Cows receiving hCG (39%) in place of GnRH at TAI tended (P = 0.06) to have poorer pregnancy rates than those receiving GnRH (56%). Pre-CO-Synch hCG treatment increased (P < 0.05) the percentage of cows with concentrations of P4 >1 ng/mL at d -7, increased (P < 0.02) concentration of P4 on d -7, and decreased (P < 0.001) the size of the dominant follicle on d 0 and 3, compared with cows not treated with hCG on d -14. In Exp. 2, cows were stratified based on days postpartum, BCS, breed type, and calf sex and then assigned to the CG (n = 102) or HG (n = 103) treatments. Overall pregnancy rates were 51%, but no differences in pregnancy rates were detected between treatments. Pre-CO-Synch hCG treatment increased (P < 0.05) the percentage of cows cycling on d -7 and increased (P < 0.05) concentrations of P4 on d -7 compared with pre-CO-Synch controls. Therefore, pretreatment induction of ovulation after hCG injection 7 d before initiation of CO-Synch + CIDR protocol failed to enhance pregnancy rates, but replacing GnRH with hCG at the time of AI may reduce pregnancy rates.