Summary. Sixteen pinealectomized and 19 unoperated ewes were exposed to constant light for about 4 weeks before and 4 weeks after lambing. Six ram lambs born to unoperated ewes were implanted s.c. with melatonin sachets while 8 ram lambs were implanted with empty sachets. The 8 ram lambs born to pinealectomized dams also received empty implants. Ewes and lambs were then returned to the field. Analysis of weekly blood samples indicated that prolactin secretion was significantly decreased in the ram lambs with empty implants between 44–51 weeks of age whereas lambs treated with melatonin failed to show a significant change during development. All 3 groups of rams had elevated LH levels between 7 and 17 weeks of age, and a second period of high LH between 27 and 40 weeks. There were no significant differences between groups in the patterns of FSH secretion; FSH was highest between 7 and 17 weeks of age, and again between 27 and 40 weeks of age. Plasma testosterone levels in all groups increased gradually between 4 and 35 weeks. Between 38 and 48 weeks of age testosterone concentrations were markedly elevated in all groups. Growth was not affected by melatonin treatment. These results indicate that neonatal melatonin treatment has subtle endocrine effects; whether these effects are sufficient to compromise fertility in the ram, however, remains to be established.
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