Effects of heat stress during pregnancy on postpartum reproductive changes in Holstein cows.

G. S. Lewis, W. W. Thatcher, E. L. Bliss, M. Drost, R. J. Collier

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63 Scopus citations


Effects of heat stress during the last third of gestation on reproductive changes postpartum were studied in Holstein cows. Cows and heifers 160 to 190 d of gestation were assigned in June 1978 to shade (n = seven cows and two heifers) or no shade (n = eight cows and two heifers) management treatments. After parturition, all cows (n = 19) were moved to the milking herd and managed uniformly. On the day of calving and on each Monday, Wednesday and Friday thereafter until d 50 postpartum, jugular blood samples were collected. Beginning approximately 7 d postpartum, the reproductive tract of each cow was examined rectally after collection of blood samples. Estrus was monitored twice daily and cows were inseminated after d 45 postpartum. Prepartum heat stress increased 13,14-dihydro-15-keto-prostaglandin F2 alpha (PGFM) concentrations postpartum and increased the rate of uterine involution. Regardless of prepartum treatment, progesterone concentrations indicated that luteal phases had begun by d 12.4 +/- 1.3 postpartum, which was about 3 d before PGFM was basal. The first luteal phase lasted only 10.7 +/- .9 d. First estrus was not detected until d 32.3 +/- 4.8 postpartum. The previously gravid uterine horn had a negative effect on ovarian volume, diameter of the largest follicle and percentage of ovaries with a corpus luteum. However, prepartum heat stress attenuated this effect. This study indicates that heat stress prepartum had residual effects on postpartum reproductive changes, and that the previously gravid uterine horn exerted some control, which was attenuated by heat stress, over ovarian recrudescense. Even though heat stress prepartum affected sensitive measures of postpartum reproductive function, it did not alter days to first estrus, days open (102.3 +/- 13.1) or services/conception (2.5 +/- .3).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)174-186
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of animal science
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1984
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Genetics


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