Role of plasma progesterone concentration in early pregnancy of the ewe

F. D. Brien, I. A. Cumming, I. J. Clarke, C. S. Cocks

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Eighty-eight maiden and 125 mature Merino ewes were grazed on green irrigated pasture or given dry hay on a fallow area with or without a lupin grain supplement just before and during mating. Progesterone concentrations in peripheral plasma were measured at 12 d after coitus. Progesterone concentration was lower (2.27 vs 2.87 ng/ml, P < 0.001) when lupins were fed, and maiden ewes had higher progesterone concentrations than mature ewes (2.75 vs 2.36 ng/ml, P < 0.05). Pregnant ewes had higher progesterone concentrations than non-pregnant ewes (2.77 vs 2.36 ng/ml, P < 0.05), and ewes with two ovulations had higher progesterone concentrations than ewes with a single ovulation (3.13 vs 2.08 ng/ml, P < 0.001). There was an interaction between pasture type and lupin supplement, with lupins depressing progesterone level more on green irrigated pasture (lupins 2.11 ng/ml, no lupins 3.00 ng/ml, P < 0.05) than on dry pasture (lupins 2.45 ng/ml, no lupins 2.74 ng/ml, P < 0.05). The results confirm that a high plane of nutrition at mating lowers progesterone levels in plasma and suggest that this may be a factor in the increase in embryo deaths when ewes are fed lupin grain supplements.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)562-565
Number of pages4
JournalAustralian Journal of Experimental Agriculture
Issue number113
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 1981
Externally publishedYes

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