Reduced conception rate during the hot summer and subsequent autumn is a well-documented phenomenon. Evaporative cooling systems greatly increase milk production but only slightly improve reproductive performance; hence, additional approaches to improving fertility during the hot season are required. The purpose of the present study was to examine whether the combination of an efficient cooling system and hormonal manipulation (GnRH+PGF2α) might improve fertility during the summer and autumn. The experiment was conducted from July to December in 2 commercial herds in Israel and included 382 healthy Holstein cows. Cows (50 to 60 d in milk) were hormonally treated to induce 3 consecutive 9-d follicular waves, with GnRH administration followed by PGF2α injection 7 d later. Both control (n=187) and treated (n=195) cows were inseminated following estrus, and pregnancy was determined by palpation 45 d post-insemination. Data revealed an interaction between treatment and primiparous cows, reflected by a 16% increase in conception rate [odds ratio (OR) 2.32, 95% confidence interval (CI): 0.96-5.61] and 14% increase in pregnancy rate at 120 d in milk (OR 3.16, 95% CI: 0.93-10.47). Interaction between treatment and high body condition score was reflected by a 14% increase in pregnancy rate at 90 d in milk (OR 3.02, 95% CI: 1.14-7.96). About 60% of the treated cows expressed estrus at the expected time (normal response within 5 d following the third PGF2α injection); the remaining 40% that manifested estrus later (late response) had higher milk yield and lower body condition score. Additional analyses indicated that treatment interacted with normal response to raise conception rates and pregnancy rates of primiparous cows and cows with high body condition score. On the other hand, treatment by late-response interaction lowered conception rate during the summer. Implementation of such hormonal treatment in combination with an efficient cooling system may improve reproductive performance of dairy cows during the summer and subsequent autumn.
- Gonadotropin-releasing hormone
- Hot season
- Prostaglandin F