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C. J. Wilde, A. J. Henderson, and C. H. Knight

Summary. Metabolic adaptations of goat mammary tissue during pregnancy and lactation were monitored in serial biopsies of the tissue. Changes in the synthetic capacity of secretory cells were studied by combining measurements of enzyme activities with short-term culture of mammary explants to measure lactose, casein and total protein synthesis. By these criteria, the main phase of mammary differentiation began in late pregnancy and was essentially complete by Week 5 of lactation, coinciding with the achievement of peak milk yield. While milk yield declined after Week 5, the activities of key enzymes expressed per mg DNA and the rates of lactose and casein synthesis in mammary explants were maintained over a considerable period. The results suggest that changes in the synthetic capacity of epithelial cells may account for much of the rise in milk yield in early lactation, but are not responsible for the declining phase of milk production characteristic of lactation in ruminants.

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C. H. Knight, C. J. Wilde, B. J. McLeod, and W. Haresign

Summary. A specific sheep LH radioimmunoassay was validated for the measurement of goat LH, and used to monitor luteal-phase LH episodes and the preovulatory LH surge in progestagen sponge-synchronized cycling goats. No luteal-phase LH episodes were detected during 12 h of frequent (15-min) blood sampling in 2 goats. A preovulatory LH surge was recorded in 5/5 goats, with a mean amplitude of 45·4 ± 7·2 ng/ml and a mean time of onset of 38·4 ± 1 ·2 h after removal of a progestagen-impregnated sponge. In anoestrous goats, single i.v. injections of 1000 and 2000 ng GnRH induced LH episodes with a mean amplitude of 2·04 ± 0·11 and 3·67 ± 0·06 ng/ml respectively, but injections of 250 or 500 ng did not consistently elevate LH concentrations. Progestagenprimed, seasonally anoestrous lactating goats were treated with repeated injections of 1500 ng GnRH (every 2 h for 52 or 78 h) in May 1985 or 1986. All 10 had kidded in March of the same year, and were consequently at peak lactation at the time of GnRH treatment. A preovulatory LH surge was detected in 9 goats with a mean time of onset of 59·5 ± 2·9 h (1985) or 39·6 ± 3·3 h (1986) after vaginal sponge removal. All animals displayed oestrus and ovulated, and 9 of the goats were mated: in 5 of these animals pregnancies were successfully carried to term.

The results show episodic LH release in response to GnRH and indicate that ovulation can be induced in seasonally anoestrous goats, even at peak lactation, and normal pregnancies may result.

Keywords: goats; LH; GnRH; induced oestrus

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L F C Brito, A D Barth, N C Rawlings, R E Wilde, D H Crews Jr, Y R Boisclair, R A Ehrhardt, and J P Kastelic

The objective of the present study was to evaluate the effects offeed restriction during calfhood on serum concentrations of metabolic hormones, gonadotropins, and testosterone, and on sexual development in bulls. Eight beef bull calves received a control diet from 10 to 70 weeks of age. An additional 16 calves had restricted feed (75% of control) from 10 to 26 weeks of age (calfhood), followed by either control or high nutrition (n=8/group) during the peripubertal period until 70 weeks of age. Restricted feed during calfhood inhibited the hypothalamic GnRH pulse generator, reduced the pituitary response to GnRH, impaired testicular steroidogenesis, delayed puberty, and reduced testicular weight at 70 weeks of age, regardless of the nutrition during the peripubertal period. Restricted feed reduced serum IGF-I concentrations, but concentrations of leptin, insulin, and GH were not affected. In conclusion, restricted feed during calfhood impaired sexual development in bulls due to adverse effects on every level of the hypothalamus–pituitary–gonad axis and these effects were not overcome by supplemental feeding during the peripubertal period. Furthermore, based on temporal associations, the effects of restricted feed on the hypothalamus–pituitary–gonad axis might be mediated by serum IGF-I concentrations. These results supported the hypotheses that the pattern of LH secretion during the early gonadotropin rise during calfhood is the main determinant of age of puberty in bulls and that gonadotropin-independent mechanisms involved in testicular growth during the peripubertal period are affected by previous LH exposure.