[en] Early fetal loss ; Progesterone supplementation ; GnRH ; Twins ; Dairy cattle
[en] In order to explore pregnancy patterns in high producing dairy cows treated with GnRH or progesterone at pregnancy diagnosis (Days 28-34), two consecutive experiments were designed. In Experiment 1, cows bearing a single embryo were randomly assigned to a PRID (n=40; cows fitted with a progesterone releasing intra-vaginal device for 28 days), GnRH (n=40; cows receiving GnRH) or Control (n=26; untreated cows) group. PRID treatment led to a rise in plasma progesterone concentrations in the 7 days following the onset of treatment compared to the other two groups. In Experiment 2, in which we also examined twin pregnancies, animals were randomly assigned to PRID (n=312) or GnRH (n=294) treatment groups. Treatments were the same as described for Experiment 1. Logistic regression procedures revealed that in cows with a single corpus luteum, the probability of pregnancy loss between the first (Days 28-34) and second (Days 65-62) pregnancy diagnosis decreased by a factor of 0.51 in the PRID group compared to the GnRH group. However, in cows with two or more corpora lutea, PRID treatment increased the likelihood of pregnancy loss by a factor of three, compared to GnRH treatment. In cows carrying twins, the conceptus reduction rate was higher (P=0.02) for the GnRH (36%) than for the PRID (16.4%) group. Formation of a new corpus luteum was recorded in 17.7% of cows in the GnRH group. Our results indicate that compared to GnRH treatment, progesterone treatment given at pregnancy diagnosis in high producing dairy cows, reduced by a factor of 0.51 and increased by a factor of 3 the probability of pregnancy loss in cows with a single or with two or more corpora lutea, respectively, and reduced the conceptus reduction rate in cows carrying twins. The practical implications of our findings are that in herds with a high incidence of early fetal loss of a non-infectious nature, treatment at the time of pregnancy diagnosis with PRID in cows with one corpus luteum and with GnRH in cows with two or more corpora lutea should offer considerable benefits.