Early juvenile but not mid-to-late prenatal nutrition controls puberty in heifers but neither impact adult reproductive function. Academic Article uri icon


  • Objectives were to test the hypothesis that pre- and post-natal nutrition in the bovine female, independently or interactively, affect age at puberty and functional characteristics of the estrous cycle of sexually mature offspring. Brangus and Braford (n=97) beef cows bearing a female fetus were fed to achieve body condition scores of 7.5-8 (H, obese), 5.5-6 (M, moderate), or 3-3.5 (L, thin) by the start of the third trimester and maintained until parturition. Heifer offspring were weaned and fed to gain weight at either a high (H; 1 kg/day) or a low (L; 0.5 kg/day) rate between 4 and 8 months of age, then fed the same diet during a common feeding period until puberty, which resulted in compensatory growth of heifers in the L group. Heifers (n=95) from the H postnatal diet reached puberty 2 months earlier (120.4 months; P=0.0002) than those from the L postnatal diet (140.4 months). Estrous cycles of a subgroup of postpubertal heifers (n=53) were synchronized to evaluate antral follicle count (AFC), rate of growth and size of the pre-ovulatory follicle, size of corpus luteum and ovary, endometrial thickness, and plasma concentrations of progesterone and estradiol-17 (E2). Although there was a trend for postnatal H heifers to have greater AFC and plasma concentrations of E2 compared to L heifers, neither pre- nor post-natal nutrition affected any other physiological or hormonal variables, including short-term fertility. Postnatal nutritional effects on pubertal age remained the dominant observed feature.

published proceedings

  • Biol Reprod

author list (cited authors)

  • Maia, T. S., Guimares, H. R., Garza, V., Pohler, K. G., Cardoso, R. C., & Williams, G. L.

citation count

  • 0

complete list of authors

  • Maia, Tatiane S||GuimarĂ£es, Higor R||Garza, Viviana||Pohler, Ky G||Cardoso, Rodolfo C||Williams, Gary L

publication date

  • October 2022