Reproductive Management of Farm Animals

A special issue of Animals (ISSN 2076-2615). This special issue belongs to the section "Animal Reproduction".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 30 September 2024 | Viewed by 9909

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Guest Editor
Laboratory of Farm Animal Reproduction & Animal Breeding, Division of Animal Science, Department of Agriculture, International Hellenic University, 54124 Thessaloniki, Greece
Interests: semen preservation and artificial insemination; andrology-spermatology; neuroendocrinology of farm animal reproduction; effect of mycotoxins on semen characteristics; acrosome reaction; membrane and chromatin integrity and fertilization capacity
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Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues, 

Reproductive efficiency is very important to profitable and sustainable operation of commercial livestock production. Reproductive management is based on applying precision strategies, including biological, hormonal, and nutritional strategies, as well as genetic selection. Additionally, costs, animals’ welfare, environmental impacts, and human health must be considered. These strategies should not only guarantee sufficient reproductive outcomes but also comply with practical and ethical aspects. Most reproductive management practices are ready for use in commercial livestock farms after selecting the strategy which meets the goals of each farm. Such strategies may include one or more bio-stimulation tools (e.g., male effect), reproductive assisted techniques (mainly estrous synchronization and artificial insemination), nutritional management, and prevention/treatment of reproductive diseases.

Dr. Aristotelis G. Lymberopoulos
Guest Editor

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Keywords

  • cattle
  • buffaloes
  • sheep
  • goat
  • pigs
  • reproduction
  • fertility
  • reproductive management

Published Papers (8 papers)

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Research

16 pages, 2697 KiB  
Article
Characterization of Typical Behaviors of Mares in the Opening Phase of Parturition—Influence of Parity and Dystocia
by Hannah Lindinger and Axel Wehrend
Animals 2024, 14(7), 1036; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani14071036 - 28 Mar 2024
Viewed by 677
Abstract
The identification of typical behaviors in stage I of parturition, the opening phase, can be used to improve birth monitoring in the mare. Therefore, this study aimed to comprehensively analyze mare behavior during the opening phase. Real-time recordings of 66 births involving 56 [...] Read more.
The identification of typical behaviors in stage I of parturition, the opening phase, can be used to improve birth monitoring in the mare. Therefore, this study aimed to comprehensively analyze mare behavior during the opening phase. Real-time recordings of 66 births involving 56 warmblood mares were analyzed using camera footage. Behaviors such as increased locomotor activity, pawing with front hooves, lifting the tail, rolling, kicking with the hind legs toward the abdomen, and looking at the abdomen increased significantly (p < 0.001) in the four hours preceding parturition. Within the last hour of the observation period, a statistically significant change was observed for the duration of lying in the sternal and lateral position (p < 0.001). Significant correlations were observed between parity and the total number of repetitions of lying in the sternal position (p < 0.05). Furthermore, the birth process influenced the repetitions of lying in the lateral position (p < 0.05). These findings indicate distinct behavioral patterns during the opening phase of parturition, which were evident across the observed mares. Nonetheless, notable individual differences were also identified among the mares. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Reproductive Management of Farm Animals)
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16 pages, 533 KiB  
Article
Effects of Elective Caesarean Sections in Healthy Near-Term Ewes on Subsequent Reproductive Performance
by Katja Voigt, Mara Theisges, Yury Zablotski, Frank Weber and Holm Zerbe
Animals 2024, 14(6), 925; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani14060925 - 17 Mar 2024
Viewed by 695
Abstract
Post-surgical reproductive performance following ovine caesarean section has not been well studied. To assess any direct effects of surgical delivery in the absence of confounders such as dystocia or underlying diseases, we studied elective surgery performed in healthy animals for teaching purposes. Four [...] Read more.
Post-surgical reproductive performance following ovine caesarean section has not been well studied. To assess any direct effects of surgical delivery in the absence of confounders such as dystocia or underlying diseases, we studied elective surgery performed in healthy animals for teaching purposes. Four hundred and eleven paired breeding records following vaginal delivery (n = 233), elective caesarean section (n = 122), and subsequent further vaginal deliveries in animals with a history of one prior elective caesarean operation (n = 56) were evaluated retrospectively. The overall subsequent pregnancy rate was 95%. Multivariable statistical analyses did not reveal any significant influence of planned caesarean surgery on subsequent conception, stillbirth, perinatal lamb mortality, lamb birth weights, or the incidence of premature foetal death (mummification and abortion). A significantly higher number of mating attempts was, however, necessary. Also, a significant reduction in litter size was seen in the first pregnancy immediately following a surgical delivery in comparison to animals which had previously only delivered vaginally (p = 0.001), but litter size returned to pre-caesarean levels in further follow-up pregnancies in animals with a history of one elective caesarean section (p = 0.436). Subsequent long-term reproductive performance of sheep following elective caesarean section is thus excellent, and the results encourage retention for breeding. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Reproductive Management of Farm Animals)
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11 pages, 1386 KiB  
Article
Additive Impacts of Liveweight and Body Condition Score at Breeding on the Reproductive Performance of Merino and Non-Merino Ewe Lambs
by Andrew N. Thompson, Mark B. Ferguson, Gavin A. Kearney, Andrew J. Kennedy, Lyndon J. Kubeil, Claire A. Macleay, Cesar A. Rosales-Nieto, Beth L. Paganoni and Jason P. Trompf
Animals 2024, 14(6), 867; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani14060867 - 12 Mar 2024
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 920
Abstract
Ewe lambs that are heavier due to improved nutrition pre- and post-weaning achieve puberty at a younger age, are more fertile, and have a higher reproductive rate. Fatness is intimately linked to reproduction, and we hypothesised that higher body condition scores at breeding [...] Read more.
Ewe lambs that are heavier due to improved nutrition pre- and post-weaning achieve puberty at a younger age, are more fertile, and have a higher reproductive rate. Fatness is intimately linked to reproduction, and we hypothesised that higher body condition scores at breeding would have positive effects on the reproductive rate of ewe lambs over and above liveweight. We also expected that if only a proportion of ewe lambs were presented for breeding, then it would be more effective to select them based on both liveweight and body condition score. To test these hypotheses, we analysed data from over 17,000 records from Merino and non-Merino ewe lambs from 22 different flocks across Australia. Non-Merino ewe lambs were more fertile (69.4% vs. 48.7%) and achieved a higher reproductive rate than Merino ewe lambs (96.9% vs. 60.7%). There were significant curvilinear relationships between liveweight (p < 0.001) or body condition score (p < 0.001) prior to breeding and reproductive rate for both Merino and non-Merino ewe lambs. For both breeds, there was a significant (p < 0.001) quadratic effect of body condition score prior to breeding on reproductive rate, independent of the correlated changes in liveweight, and at the same liveweight, an extra 0.5 of a body condition score up to 3.3 improved reproductive rate by about 20%. Nevertheless, the results indicated that if only a proportion of ewe lambs were selected for breeding, then selection based on both liveweight and body condition scores may only improve the overall reproductive rate by 1 to 2% compared to selection based on liveweight alone. We conclude that liveweight is a more effective method than body condition score for selecting ewe lambs for breeding. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Reproductive Management of Farm Animals)
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18 pages, 1811 KiB  
Article
Temperature Elevation during Semen Delivery Deteriorates Boar Sperm Quality by Promoting Apoptosis
by Junwei Li, Wenming Zhao, Jiaqiao Zhu, Shuaibiao Wang, Huiming Ju, Shufang Chen, Athina Basioura, Graça Ferreira-Dias and Zongping Liu
Animals 2023, 13(20), 3203; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani13203203 - 13 Oct 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1237
Abstract
Semen delivery practice is crucial to the efficiency of artificial insemination using high-quality boar sperm. The present study aimed to evaluate the effect of a common semen delivery method, a Styrofoam box, under elevated temperatures on boar sperm quality and functionality and to [...] Read more.
Semen delivery practice is crucial to the efficiency of artificial insemination using high-quality boar sperm. The present study aimed to evaluate the effect of a common semen delivery method, a Styrofoam box, under elevated temperatures on boar sperm quality and functionality and to investigate the underlying molecular responses of sperm to the temperature rise. Three pooled semen samples from 10 Duroc boars (3 ejaculates per boar) were used in this study. Each pooled semen sample was divided into two aliquots. One aliquot was stored at a constant 17 °C as the control group. Another one was packaged in a well-sealed Styrofoam box and placed in an incubator at 37 °C for 24 h to simulate semen delivery on hot summer days and subsequently transferred to a refrigerator at 17 °C for 3 days. The semen temperature was continuously monitored. The semen temperature was 17 °C at 0 h of storage and reached 20 °C at 5 h, 30 °C at 14 h, and 37 °C at 24 h. For each time point, sperm quality and functionality, apoptotic changes, expression levels of phosphorylated AMPK, and heat shock proteins HSP70 and HSP90 were determined by CASA, flow cytometry, and Western blotting. The results showed that elevated temperature during delivery significantly deteriorated boar sperm quality and functionality after 14 h of delivery. Storage back to 17 °C did not recover sperm motility. An increased temperature during delivery apparently promoted the conversion of sperm early apoptosis to late apoptosis, showing a significant increase in the expression levels of Bax and Caspase 3. The levels of phosphorylated AMPK were greatly induced by the temperature rise to 20 °C during delivery but reduced thereafter. With the temperature elevation, expression levels of HSP70 and HSP90 were notably increased. Our results indicate that a temperature increase during semen delivery greatly damages sperm quality and functionality by promoting sperm apoptosis. HSP70 and HSP90 could participate in boar sperm resistance to temperature changes by being associated with AMPK activation and anti-apoptotic processes. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Reproductive Management of Farm Animals)
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13 pages, 2466 KiB  
Article
Administration of Estradiol Benzoate Enhances Ovarian and Uterine Hemodynamics in Postpartum Dairy Buffaloes
by Haney Samir, Hossam R. El-Sherbiny, Ahmed Ezzat Ahmed, Ramya Ahmad Sindi, Khalid M. Al Syaad and Elshymaa A. Abdelnaby
Animals 2023, 13(14), 2340; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani13142340 - 18 Jul 2023
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1273
Abstract
The postpartum (PP) period is a crucial stage for the resumption of reproductive performance and ovarian cyclicity in dairy buffaloes. The present study aimed, for the first time, to assess the effect of the administration of estradiol benzoate (EB) on ovarian and uterine [...] Read more.
The postpartum (PP) period is a crucial stage for the resumption of reproductive performance and ovarian cyclicity in dairy buffaloes. The present study aimed, for the first time, to assess the effect of the administration of estradiol benzoate (EB) on ovarian and uterine hemodynamics in PP dairy buffaloes. Eight pluriparous acyclic domestic buffaloes were enrolled in the present experiment and received a dose of 10 mg of estradiol benzoate (EB) intramuscularly 4 weeks after parturition. All animals were examined two times before EB administration (days −3, and −1) and on the day of EB administration (day 0), followed by examinations on days 1, 3, 5, 7, and 9 post-EB administration. The middle uterine artery (MUA) and ovarian artery (OA) blood flow patterns were assessed using a color Doppler ultrasound device. The reproductive parameters were (1) the cross-sectional diameters (cm) of the OA and MUA, (2) cranial uterine horn thickness (UHT; cm), and (3) hemodynamic changes within the MUA on both the ipsi- and contra-lateral sides of the previous pregnant horn and within the OA corresponding to the ovarian tissues. The examined blood flow parameters were the pulsatility index (PI), resistance index (RI), peak systolic/end-diastolic ratio (S/D), time-averaged maximum velocity (TAV; cm/s), uterine blood flow rate (BFR; bpm), and uterine blood flow volume (BFV; mL/min). Concomitantly, blood samples were collected from the coccygeal vein, and the sera were stored at −18 °C for use in estradiol (E2-17β) and nitric oxide (NO) assays. The results revealed increases in both OA and MUA cross-sectional diameter (cm) on the ipsi-lateral and contra-lateral (p < 0.05) sides within 24 h until day 9 post-treatment. The values of the RI and PI of blood flow within the OA and MUA on the ipsi-lateral and contra-lateral sides of the previous pregnancy were obviously lower (p < 0.05) at 24 h after the administration of EB, and then, started to gradually elevate, reaching the pre-treatment values on day 9 after EB administration. Both the BFR and BFV in the OA and MUA significantly increased from 24 h to 72 h after EB administration on both the ipsi-lateral and contra-lateral sides (p < 0.05); then, their values started to decrease to reach the pretreatment value on day 9 after EB administration. Both E2 and NO concentrations significantly increased (p < 0.05) from 24 h until day 3 after EB injection and then started to decline after that, reaching the pre-treatment value on day 9. In conclusion, the administration of EB enhances the ovarian and uterine blood flow concomitantly with increased levels of NO in PP dairy buffaloes. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Reproductive Management of Farm Animals)
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15 pages, 5559 KiB  
Article
The Use of a Brief Synchronization Treatment after Weaning, Combined with Superovulation, Has Moderate Effects on the Gene Expression of Surviving Pig Blastocysts
by Henar Gonzalez-Ramiro, Maria A. Gil, Cristina Cuello, Josep M. Cambra, Alejandro Gonzalez-Plaza, Juan M. Vazquez, Jose L. Vazquez, Heriberto Rodriguez-Martinez, Alejandro Lucas-Sanchez, Inmaculada Parrilla, Cristina A. Martinez and Emilio A. Martinez
Animals 2023, 13(9), 1568; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani13091568 - 8 May 2023
Viewed by 1455
Abstract
The combination of estrus synchronization and superovulation (SS) treatments causes alterations in ovarian and endometrial gene expression patterns, resulting in abnormal follicle and oocyte growth, fertilization, and embryo development. However, the impact of combined SS treatments on the transcriptome of the surviving embryos [...] Read more.
The combination of estrus synchronization and superovulation (SS) treatments causes alterations in ovarian and endometrial gene expression patterns, resulting in abnormal follicle and oocyte growth, fertilization, and embryo development. However, the impact of combined SS treatments on the transcriptome of the surviving embryos remains unidentified. In this study, we examined gene expression changes in day 6 blastocysts that survived a brief regimen of synchronization treatment combined with superovulation. The sows were included in one of three groups: SS7 group (n = 6), sows were administered Altrenogest (ALT) 7 days from the day of weaning and superovulated with eCG 24 h after the end of ALT treatment and hCG at the onset of estrus; SO group (n = 6), ALT nontreated sows were superovulated with eCG 24 h postweaning and hCG at the onset of estrus; control group (n = 6), weaned sows displaying natural estrus. Six days after insemination, the sows underwent a surgical intervention for embryo collection. Transcriptome analysis was performed on blastocyst-stage embryos with good morphology. Differentially expressed genes (DEGs) between groups were detected using one-way ANOVA with an un-adjusted p-value < 0.05 and a fold change </> 1.5. The effect of SO treatment on the number of altered pathways and DEGs within each pathway was minimal. Only four pathways were disrupted comprising only a total of four altered transcripts, which were not related to reproductive functions or embryonic development. On the other hand, the surviving blastocysts subjected to SS7 treatments exhibited moderate gene expression changes in terms of DEGs and fold changes, with seven pathways disrupted containing a total of 10 transcripts affected. In this case, the up-regulation of certain pathways, such as the metabolic pathway, with two up-regulated genes associated with reproductive functions, namely RDH10 and SPTLC2, may suggest suboptimal embryo quality, while the down-regulation of others, such as the glutathione metabolism pathway, with down-regulated genes related to cellular detoxification of reactive oxygen species, namely GSTK1 and GSTO1, could depress the embryos’ response to oxidative stress, thereby impairing subsequent embryo development. The gene expression changes observed in the present study in SS7 embryos, along with previous reports indicating SS7 can negatively affect fertilization, embryo production, and reproductive tract gene expression, make its use in embryo transfer programs unrecommendable. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Reproductive Management of Farm Animals)
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15 pages, 902 KiB  
Article
Ovarian and Energy Status in Lame Dairy Cows at Puerperium and Their Responsiveness in Protocols for the Synchronization of Ovulation
by Anastasia Praxitelous, Panagiotis D. Katsoulos, Angeliki Tsaousioti, Christos Brozos, Ekaterini K. Theodosiadou, Constantin M. Boscos and Georgios Tsousis
Animals 2023, 13(9), 1537; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani13091537 - 4 May 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1500
Abstract
The purpose of this study was to assess the ovarian and energy status of multiparous lame dairy cows at the end of puerperium and investigate their responsiveness to estrous synchronization treatment regimens. Initial lameness scoring was performed at 28 ± 5 and 37 [...] Read more.
The purpose of this study was to assess the ovarian and energy status of multiparous lame dairy cows at the end of puerperium and investigate their responsiveness to estrous synchronization treatment regimens. Initial lameness scoring was performed at 28 ± 5 and 37 ± 5 d post partum, followed by lesion documentation and treatment. Cows were blocked by lameness severity and were randomly allocated to an estrous synchronization treatment regimen with seven days of progesterone supplementation (group LP, n = 26) or with an administration of PGF twice, 14 d apart (group LC, n = 26). Non-lame cows served as controls (group C, n = 27) and the same treatment regimen was imposed as that for group LC. Twelve days after estrous presynchronization, an Ovsynch treatment regimen and timed AI were imposed. Ultrasonography of the ovaries and blood sampling for progesterone were used to assess cyclicity status, whereas β-hydroxybutyrate (BHBA) and non-esterified fatty acids (NEFA) were used to assess energy status. Lame cows were to a greater proportion non-cycling (36.5% vs. 11.1%; p = 0.02), had greater overall NEFA concentrations (0.32 ± 0.02 vs. 0.26 ± 0.02 mEq/L; p = 0.02) and a greater incidence of elevated NEFA concentrations (53.9% vs. 29.6%, p = 0.04) compared to control cows. However, no interaction between energy and lameness status was evident regarding non-cycling cows. The percentage of cows responding to the presynchronization, synchronization and ovulating did not differ between groups LP, LC, and C. The first-service conception rate (FSCR) tended to be greater for group C (37.0%) compared to group LP (16.0%; p = 0.08). Long-term reproductive performance did not differ between lame and control cows, although culling rates did (21.2% vs. 0%, respectivly; p = 0.01). The severity of lameness had an effect on culling rates (30.6% vs. 0% for cows with marked vs. moderate lameness; p = 0.01), whereas the type of lesion largely explained poor reproductive performance (FSCR 13.9% vs. 40.0% for cows with claw horn disruptions vs. infectious lesions; p = 0.04). Conclusively, cows that were lame during puerperium are at a greater risk of not cycling irrespective of energy status. Treatment regimens for the synchronization of ovulation seem to be efficient at resuming ovarian cyclicity. Marked lameness was detrimental to survivability, whereas cows with claw horn lesions had compromised reproductive capacity. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Reproductive Management of Farm Animals)
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10 pages, 1644 KiB  
Article
Analysis of Calving Ease and Stillbirth and Their Impact on the Length of Functional Productive Life in Slovak Holstein Cattle
by Eva Strapáková, Juraj Candrák and Peter Strapák
Animals 2023, 13(9), 1496; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani13091496 - 27 Apr 2023
Viewed by 1398
Abstract
The aim of the study was to determine the frequency of births according to the categories of calving difficulty and stillbirths and to evaluate the effect of these factors on the longevity of cows. Longevity is one of the traits that affect the [...] Read more.
The aim of the study was to determine the frequency of births according to the categories of calving difficulty and stillbirths and to evaluate the effect of these factors on the longevity of cows. Longevity is one of the traits that affect the overall profit in the dairy industry. A Weibull proportional hazard model was used to evaluate the influence of functional traits such as calving ease and stillbirth. Longevity was expressed as the length of a functional, productive life from the first calving to death or censoring, which was corrected for milk yield. The database included 918,568 calvings, where calving without assistance represented 83.34%, calving with the assistance of one person or the use of a slight mechanical pull represented 14.47%, difficult calving with the assistance of several people, the use of mechanical traction or the intervention of a veterinarian represented 2.16%, and cesarean section represented 0.03%. The mortality of calves, stillborn or dead within 48 h of birth, represented 1.07% and 6.59%, respectively. The frequency of alive female calves was higher (46.84%) than male calves (45.50%). Cows with higher lactations had almost half as many stillborn calves as heifers. The most stillborn calves were found in difficult births (59.48%). In easy calving, this proportion was 2.48%. Using survival analysis, we estimated the significant influence of the factors such as parity, milk production, herd size, age at first calving, herd × year × season, sex of calf, calving ease, and stillbirth on the length of the functional, productive life of cows. The risk of early culling of the cows with moderately difficult calving was 1.259 times higher than in the cows with easy calving. Difficult calving and cesarean section shorten the productive life, and the risk of culling reached 1.711 and 1.894, respectively. Cows that gave birth to a dead calf achieved a 2.939 times higher risk of culling compared to cows that gave birth to a live calf. In this study, a higher risk of early culling was found in cows that gave birth to a male calf. Evaluation of the calving ease and stillbirth can be used as indirect indicators at an earlier age of the animal in the selection process for long-lived animals with good productive and reproductive performance. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Reproductive Management of Farm Animals)
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