Is prolonged luteal phase a problem in lactating Holstein cows? Academic Article uri icon


  • In this study, the main objective was to assess if long luteal phases could have other causes than pregnancy losses. We enrolled Holstein dairy cows 50 d in milk (DIM) from a commercial herd in Brazil from October 2016 to August 2017. All cows received an estradiol-based synchronization protocol, and, on the day of insemination (d 0), were randomly assigned either an artificial insemination (AI) or a placebo insemination (PBO) in a 3:1 ratio. An ultrasound was used to assess the presence of a CL on d17, 24, and 31, which, combined to the information from patches for the detection of estrus, was used to determine the length of the luteal phase following AI or PBO. Pregnancy was assessed by ultrasound on d 31 and cows that were pregnant were excluded from the analyses. The length of the estrous cycles was categorized as short (<17 d), normal (17-23 d), long (24-30 d), and very long (31 d). We compared the proportion of cows in each category between the AI and PBO groups using a cumulative ordinal mixed model. We define prolonged luteal phase as estrous cycles 24 d and tested its association with potential risk factors (parity, season, DIM, uterine size and position score, milk production, body condition score, and the presence of a corpus luteum (CL) at enrollment to the synchronization protocol) using mixed logistic regression models. Results are presented as odds ratio (OR) and 95% credible intervals (BCI). Data from 876 inseminations (AI: n = 616, PBO: n = 260) was collected. Overall, 12% of estrous cycles were short, 31% were normal, 19% were long, and 38% were very long. There was no difference in the odds of being in longer estrous cycle categories for the AI compared with the PBO group (OR = 0.92, 95% BCI = 0.76-1.10). Season and presence of a CL at enrollment were associated with prolonged luteal phase. In the AI group, there was a possible effect of early pregnancy losses on the lifespan of the CL, but not the PBO group, which led us to conclude that long and very long estrous cycles were not all caused by the embryonic loss. In fact, the high prevalence of cows with an extended CL lifespan in the present study suggests this could be an under- or miss-reported characteristic of high-producing lactating Holstein cows. This finding may have important repercussions in the understanding of the CL function physiology of lactating Holstein cows.

published proceedings

  • J Dairy Sci

author list (cited authors)

  • Denis-Robichaud, J., Oliveira, A. P., Sica, A., Soriano, S., Arajo, R. L., Pereira, M., ... Vasconcelos, J.

complete list of authors

  • Denis-Robichaud, J||Oliveira, AP||Sica, A||Soriano, S||Ara├║jo, RL||Pereira, MHC||Pohler, KG||Cerri, RLA||Vasconcelos, JLM

publication date

  • May 2024