Summary. Plasma progesterone concentration and embryo survival were determined during successive pregnancies in ewes throughout one breeding season. The probability of an embryo surviving was associated with the progesterone concentration on the days around ovulation, with the timing of the increase from periovulatory to luteal values, and with the rate at which progesterone concentrations increased. Individual embryo survival decreased both as the number of corpora lutea increased, and towards the end of the breeding season; the latter effect could be explained entirely by differences in progesterone concentration. Considerable variation in progesterone secretion and in embryo survival was observed within the same ewes during successive pregnancies. Such variability in progesterone concentrations during early pregnancy may be a cause of some embryo mortality.
Keywords: embryo survival; fertility; progesterone; sheep; season