DOI: 10.1111/rda.14450 ISSN:

Strategies to improve the success of fixed‐time artificial insemination in the ewe

Alice C. Weaver, Jennifer M. Kelly, Alyce M. Swinbourne, David O. Kleemann, Simon K. Walker
  • Endocrinology
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Biotechnology


During the sheep breeding season, ovulatory follicles vary widely in age at pessary removal impacting both the timing of oestrus and pregnancy rates following artificial insemination (AI). Ovulatory follicles that emerge between days 7 to 9 of the pessary period are associated with higher fertility whilst those that emerge earlier or later are associated with lower fertility. In this study, two strategies to improve the success of AI by controlling the development of the ovulatory follicle were examined. In the first, ewes were treated with PGF2α at either −12 and/or +6 days (experiment 1) or −27 days (experiment 2) relative to pessary insertion to control the time of emergence of the ovulatory follicle. In the second, ewes were treated with eCG (400 IU per ewe) at either 0 h, −6 h or −12 h relative to pessary removal (experiment 3) to improve the development of young ovulatory follicles. PGF2α administered on day −27 increased the percentage of pregnant ewes by 17.8% and the number of foetuses per 100 ewes inseminated by 33.9%. PGF2α treatment at other times had either no effect or reduced fertility. During the breeding season, treatment with eCG at −12 h improved the synchrony of oestrus, reduced the size of the ovulatory follicle but did not improve pregnancy rate compared with other treatments. Treatment had no effect during the non‐breeding season, supporting earlier findings that the quality of young ovulatory follicles differs during the year. In conclusion, PGF2α treatment 27 days before pessary insertion provides a new and cheap strategy to improve the success of fixed‐time AI programs.

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