Bulls fed a high-gain diet decrease blastocyst formation after in vitro fertilization. Academic Article uri icon


  • IN BRIEF: Paternal high-gain diet reduces blastocyst development following in vitro fertilization and embryo culture but does not affect gene expression or cellular allocation of resultant blastocysts. ABSTRACT: Bulls used in cattle production are often overfed to induce rapid growth, early puberty, and increase sale price. While the negative consequences of undernutrition on bull sperm quality are known, it is unclear how a high-gain diet influences embryo development. We hypothesized that semen collected from bulls fed a high-gain diet would have a reduced capacity to produce blastocysts following in vitro fertilization. Eight mature bulls were stratified by body weight and fed the same diet for 67 days at either a maintenance level (0.5% body weight per day; n = 4) or a high-gain rate (1.25% body weight per day; n = 4). Semen was collected by electroejaculation at the end of the feeding regimen and subjected to sperm analysis, frozen, and used for in vitro fertilization. The high-gain diet increased body weight, average daily gain, and subcutaneous fat thickness compared to the maintenance diet. Sperm of high-gain bulls tended to have increased early necrosis and had increased post-thaw acrosome damage compared with maintenance bulls, but diet did not affect sperm motility or morphology. Semen of high-gain bulls reduced the percentage of cleaved oocytes that developed to blastocyst stage embryos. Paternal diet had no effect on the number of total or CDX2-positive cells of blastocysts, or blastocysts gene expression for markers associated with developmental capacity. Feeding bulls a high-gain diet did not affect sperm morphology or motility, but increased adiposity and reduced the ability of sperm to generate blastocyst-stage embryos.

published proceedings

  • Reproduction

author list (cited authors)

  • Seekford, Z. K., Davis, D. B., Dickson, M. J., Melo Gonlaves, L., Burato, S., Holton, M. P., ... Bromfield, J. J.

complete list of authors

  • Seekford, Zachary K||Davis, Dylan B||Dickson, Mackenzie J||Melo Gonçlaves, Lucas||Burato, Samir||Holton, Matthew P||Gordon, Julie||Pohler, Ky G||Cliff Lamb, G||Pringle, Timothy D||Stewart, Robert L||Ferrer, Maria S||Fontes, Pedro LP||Bromfield, John J

publication date

  • August 2023