This study compares the fertility effects of inducing ovulation using human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) versus gonadotropin releasing hormone (GnRH) at the end of a 5-day progesterone(P4)-based protocol for fixed-time artificial insemination (FTAI) in heat-stressed and non-heat stressed anestrous lactating dairy cows. Heat stress (HS) was defined as an environmental temperature-humidity index (THI) > 72. A P4 intravaginal device (CIDR) was fitted for five days and GnRH administered upon CIDR insertion and a double dose (24 h apart) of prostaglandin F-2 alpha upon CIDR removal. Cows then received either GnRH (GnRH group; n = 506), or hCG (hCG group; n = 493) 36 h after CIDR removal and were inseminated 50-56 h after CIDR removal. Ovulation failure was investigated in a subset of 425 cows: 223 and 202 receiving GnRH and hCG, respectively. Based on odds ratios, the interaction between treatment and HS had a significant effect on the ovulation failure rate (P = 0.01). This meant that compared to the rates recorded in non-heat-stressed, GnRH-treated cows (13%), ovulation failure in heat-stressed GnRH-treated cows (25.3%) was more likely by a factor of 2.3 (P = 0.04), in non-heat-stressed hCG-treated cows (2.3%) was less likely by a factor of 0.16 (P = 0.02) and was not significantly different in heat-stressed hCG-treated cows (7%). Interactions between treatment and HS and between treatment and parity had a significant effect on the pregnancy rate (P = 0.0001 and P = 0.001, respectively). The treatment-HS interaction determined that compared to the rates recorded in non-heat-stressed, GnRH-treated cows (30.5%), pregnancy in heat-stressed GnRH-treated cows (17.6%) was less likely by a factor of 0.48 than the remaining cows (P = 0.001), whereas because of the treatment-parity interaction, compared to the rates recorded in primiparous, GnRH-treated cows (31.4%), pregnancy in GnRH-treated multiparous cows (18.9%) was less likely to conceive by a factor of 0.51 than the remaining cows (P = 0.002). No significant effects of treatment on the rates of pregnancy loss or twin pregnancy were identified by binary logistic regression. In conclusion, hCG treatment given at the end of a 5-day P4-based protocol for FTAI improved ovulation and pregnancy rates in anestrous cows under conditions of HS and also had a beneficial impact on the pregnancy rate in anestrous multiparous cows throughout the year. (C) 2018 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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