Reduced conception rate (CR) during the hot summer and subsequent autumn is a well-documented phenomenon. Intensive use of cooling systems can improve summer and autumn reproductive performance, but is unable to increase CR to winter and spring levels. We examined whether combined hormonal treatments--to increase follicular turnover before artificial insemination (AI) and progesterone supplementation post-AI--might improve fertility of cooled cows during the summer and autumn. The experiment was conducted from July to November in 3 commercial herds in Israel and included 707 Holstein cows at 50 to 60 d in milk (DIM). Cows were hormonally treated to induce 2 consecutive 9-d cycles, with GnRH administration followed by PGF2α injection 7 d later, followed by an intravaginal insert containing progesterone on d 5 ± 1 post-AI for 14 d. Both untreated controls (n=376) and treated cows (n=331) were inseminated following estrus, and pregnancy was determined by palpation 42 to 50 d post-AI. First-AI CR data revealed a positive interaction between treatment and cows previously diagnosed with postpartum uterine disease [odds ratio (OR) 2.24]. Interaction between treatment and low body condition score tended to increase the probability of first-AI CR (OR 1.95) and increased pregnancy rate at 90 DIM (OR 2.50) and at 120 DIM (OR 1.77). Low milk production increased the probability of being detected in estrus at the end of synchronization within treated cows (OR 1.67), and interacted with treatment to increase probability of pregnancy at 90 DIM (OR 2.39) relative to control counterparts. It is suggested that when administered with efficient cooling, combined hormonal treatment in specific subgroups of cows, that is, those previously diagnosed with postpartum uterine disease or those with low body condition score or low milk yield might improve fertility during the summer and autumn. Integration of such an approach into reproductive management during the hot seasons might improve treatment efficiency and reduce expenses.
Keywords: fertility; heat stress; hormonal treatment.
Copyright © 2014 American Dairy Science Association. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.