Sexual maturity and fertility-related measures in young Nellore bulls receiving long-term dietary supplementation with rumen-protected polyunsaturated fatty acids
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The objective of this study was to evaluate the effects of long-term supplementation with rumen-protected fatty acids (FA) on growth and reproductive parameters of young Nellore bulls in a grazing regime. Forty-eight young bulls were distributed into two groups: FA (supplemented with rumen-protected polyunsaturated FA); and control (control fat-free supplement). The animals were supplemented from 14.3 to 24.6 months of age and growth and reproductive parameters were evaluated at 28-day intervals. The semen was cryopreserved in the last collection and fresh and post-thaw semen samples were evaluated. Feeding FA did not affect (P > 0.05) growth, reproductive parameters (scrotal circumference, sperm concentration per mL of ejaculate, percentage of sperm defects, sperm quality and fertility in vitro), or testicular ultrasonographic characteristics. However, thawed semen from bulls fed FA exhibited better quality (P < 0.05) than control semen for the following parameters evaluated by computer-assisted sperm analysis: average path velocity [μm/s: 90.48 vs. 79.66 post-thaw and 74.81 vs. 72.80 post-rapid thermoresistance test (TRT)], straight-line velocity (μm/s: 72.37 vs. 65.20 post-thaw and 64.96 vs. 63.25 post-TRT), and curvilinear velocity (μm/s: 148.44 vs. 131.31 post-thaw and 115.68 vs. 113.35 post-TRT). In addition, feeding FA increased peripheral concentrations of testosterone, leptin, total cholesterol and high-density lipoprotein. In conclusion, the increase in testosterone concentrations in bulls fed FA was not related to variations in growth parameters and sexual maturity. In addition, post-thawing sperm velocities were enhanced by diet, however, such increases were not related to better in vitro embryo production rates.
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