Summary. For 18 two-wave interovulatory intervals in heifers, the follicular waves were first detected on Days −0·2 ± 0·1 and 9·6 ± 0·2, and for 4 three-wave intervals on Days −0·5 ± 0·3, 9·0 ± 0·0 and 16·0 ± 1·1 (ovulation is Day 0). The day-to-day mean diameter profile of the dominant follicle of the 1st wave and the day of emergence of the 2nd wave were not significantly different between 2-wave and 3-wave intervals. There were no indications, therefore, that events occurring during the first half of the interovulatory interval were associated with the later emergence of a 3rd wave. The dominant ovulatory follicle differed significantly (P < 0·05 at least) between 2-wave and 3-wave intervals in day of emergence (Day 9·6 ± 0·2 and 16·0 ± 1·1), length of interval from emergence of follicle to ovulation (10·9 ± 0·4 and 6·8 ± 0·6 days), and diameter on day before ovulation (16·5 ± 0·4 and 13·9 ± 0·4 mm). The mean length of 2-wave interovulatory intervals (20·4 ± 0·3 days) was shorter (P < 0·01) than for 3-wave intervals (22·8 ± 0·6 days). The mean day of luteal regression for 2-wave and 3-wave intervals was 16·5 ± 0·4 and 19·2 ± 0·5 (P < 0·01). For all intervals, luteal regression occurred after emergence of the ovulatory wave, and the next wave did not emerge until near the day of ovulation at the onset of the subsequent interovulatory interval. In conclusion, the emergence of a 3rd wave was associated with a longer luteal phase, and the viable dominant follicle present at the time of luteolysis became the ovulatory follicle.
Keywords: follicles; corpus luteum; cattle; follicular waves