Impact of slick hair trait on physiological and reproductive performance in beef heifers consuming ergot alkaloids from endophyte-infected tall fescue1
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Fescue toxicosis is a multifaceted syndrome common in cattle grazing endophyte-infected tall fescue. The objective of this study was to evaluate the impact of the slick hair trait on physiological and reproductive parameters in heifers experiencing fescue toxicosis. Angus × Senepol heifers (n = 31) were blocked by weight (393.5 ± 17.3 kg) and phenotype relative to hair coat at birth, and randomly fed novel endophyte fescue (EN) or endophyte-infected fescue (EI) haylage in a total mixed ration for 91 d. Weekly measurements were collected to monitor heifer growth and response during ergot alkaloids exposure. Following 28 d of treatment, estrus was synchronized and heifers were inseminated. Ovary mapping and AI pregnancy rate were examined via transrectal ultrasonography. Blood samples were taken for genotyping: slick (S) or wildtype (W). Data were analyzed using repeated measures in PROC MIXED of SAS including fescue treatment (EN vs. EI), genotype (S vs. W), and sample collection time as main effects. Body condition scores were decreased for W heifers compared with S heifers (5.48 vs. 5.66, respectively; P < 0.0001). Surface temperature was greater for EI-W heifers (37.2 °C) compared with other groups (36.4, 36.6, 36.7 °C for EN-S, EN-W, EI-S, respectively; P < 0.05). Serum PRL concentrations were reduced for EI heifers compared with EN heifers (133.5 vs. 163.1 ng/mL, respectively; P < 0.05). The average number of 2 to 4 mm follicles were greater in EI-W heifers (13.8 follicles) compared with other groups (12.2, 10.6, and 11.1 for EN-S, EN-W, and EI-S, respectively; P < 0.0001). However, the average number of preovulatory follicles (≥9 mm) were reduced in EI-W heifers (0.52 follicles) compared with other heifer groups (0.94, 0.88, and 0.85 ± 0.04 for EN-S, EN-W, and EI-S, respectively; P < 0.05). Ovulatory follicle size was smaller in EI-W heifers compared with EN-W heifers (9.14 vs. 11.57 mm, respectively; P = 0.05). Corpus luteum area was reduced in EI-W heifers (235.1 mm2) compared with other heifer groups (297.2, 272.7, and 276.8 mm2 for EN-S, EN-W, and EI-S, respectively; P < 0.05). Concentrations of P4 were greater for EN heifers compared with EI heifers (2.7 vs. 1.8 ng/mL, respectively; P < 0.05). Pregnancy was not established in EI-W heifers (0%) compared with other heifer groups (37.5%, 57.1%, and 62.5% for EN-S, EN-W, and EI-S, respectively; P < 0.05). Overall, the slick hair mutation appears to aid in offsetting the physiological symptoms associated with fescue toxicosis and helps to improve reproductive performance.
Journal of Animal Science
author list (cited authors)
Poole, R. K., Devine, T. L., Mayberry, K. J., Eisemann, J. H., Poore, M. H., Long, N. M., & Poole, D. H.
complete list of authors
Poole, Rebecca K||Devine, Thomas L||Mayberry, Kyle J||Eisemann, Joan H||Poore, Matt H||Long, Nathan M||Poole, Daniel H