Summary. The dynamics of FSH and LH secretion were studied in sheep genetically selected for High (H) and Low (L) rates of testis growth. Gonadotrophin secretion had previously been shown to be affected in the ram lamb with H-line lambs more sensitive to steroid feedback than L. While there were significant differences in mean LH concentrations during the luteal and follicular phases of the oestrous cycle, mean LH values were essentially similar in the two lines in response to ovariectomy, the effect of oestradiol implants on the response to ovariectomy and the response to LHRH. However, the frequency of LH pulses in the H line was similar during both phases of the oestrous cycle, showing a surprising insensitivity to steroid feedback. By contrast, LH pulse frequency was markedly lower in the L-line ewes in the luteal than the follicular phase (0·6 vs 1·1 pulses/h) as expected from the literature. Mean FSH concentrations were significantly higher in the L-line ewes during the follicular phase of the oestrous cycle and after ovariectomy but no significant differences were detected at the other sampling periods. There were no differences in ovulation rate between the lines. It was concluded that selection for testis size had affected the feedback control of gonadotrophin release in the ewe, as in the ram, and hence the expression of the genes controlling this is not sex limited.
Keywords: ewes; gonadotrophins; selection; testis diameter