Summary. Prepubertal ewe lambs were treated with FSH after progesterone priming for 12 days (Group P), monensin supplementation for 14 days (Group M) or a standard diet (Group C). Serial blood samples were taken for LH and progesterone assay, and ovariectomy was performed on half of each group 38–52 h after start of treatment to assess ovarian function, follicular steroid production in vitro and the concentration of gonadotrophin binding sites in follicles. The remaining ewe lambs were ovariectomized 8 days after FSH treatment to determine whether functional corpora lutea were present.
FSH treatment was followed by a preovulatory LH surge which occurred significantly later (P < 0·05) and was better synchronized in ewes in Groups P and M than in those in Group C. At 13–15 h after the LH surge significantly more large follicles were present on ovaries from Group P and M ewes than in Group C. Follicles > 5 mm diameter from ewes in Groups P and M produced significantly less oestrogen and testosterone and more dihydrotestosterone, and had significantly more hCG binding sites, than did similar-sized follicles from Group C animals. Ovariectomy on Day 8 after the completion of FSH treatment showed that ewes in Groups P and M had significantly greater numbers of functional corpora lutea.
These results indicate that, in prepubertal ewes, progesterone priming and monensin supplementation may delay the preovulatory LH surge, allowing follicles developing after FSH treatment more time to mature before ovulation. This may result in better luteinization of ruptured follicles in these ewes, with the formation of functional corpora lutea.