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Use of estrous expression within reproductive management and its association with conception and ovulation rates in dairy cows Burnett, Tracy Anne

Abstract

Automated technologies have been developed to improve dairy cattle reproductive efficiency, yet there is still need for better understanding of how these technologies can be used and determine how the information collected relates to key events important for fertility. The aims of this thesis were to determine 1) if automated activity monitors (AAM) can predict estrus and be used within reproductive management, and 2) the interrelationship between estrous expression, ovulation and fertility. In Chapter 2, I provide evidence that AAM can be successfully incorporated into reproductive management without impeding the outcomes of an AI protocol and that increased estrous expression is associated with improved fertility. Chapter 3 investigates if changes in rumen-reticular temperature can be used to detect ovulation. Rumen-reticular temperature is shown to increase at the time of estrus and then declines near the time of ovulation, but the magnitude increase at estrus is dependent on the intensity of estrous expression as well as temperature and humidity at the onset of estrus. In Chapter 4 I demonstrate that the intensity of estrous expression is associated with the timing and failure of ovulation, where cows with lesser estrous expression had shorter intervals from estrus alert to ovulation and lower ovulation rates. Finally, in Chapter 5 I summarize work that investigated if the administration of GnRH at the moment of AI could increase fertility of cows with reduced estrous expression by increasing ovulation rates and modifying progesterone concentrations post-AI. The administration of GnRH increased fertility of cows with lesser estrous expression, but did not affect ovulation or progesterone profiles. Future research is merited to further understand the relationship between estrous expression and fertility of dairy cows.

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Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International

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