Vulvar width and rima length as predictors of the ovarian follicular reserve in bovine females
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The aim of this study was to investigate possible relationships between morphometric characteristics of the bovine reproductive tract and measures of fertility, such as antral follicle counts (AFCs) and the number and quality of recovered cumulus oophorus complexes (COCs). First, the genital tracts of 360 abattoir Zebu/Holstein crossbred cows were studied. Rima vulvae length (RL), vulvar width (VW), ovarian size, pelvic fat, number of aspirated COCs, and AFCs were recorded. An index of COC quality (CQI) was established, which weighed overall gamete quality based on the IETS classification. Second, the same external measurements and AFCs (by ultrasound) were analyzed in live Tabapuã (Zebu) cows (n = 48). Relative RL and vulvar width were defined as the original measurements divided by the body weight of each cow for statistical analyses. In abattoir tracts, the AFC was smaller (P < 0.05) in animals with large VW (34.88 ± 3.50) than in animals with small (45.71 ± 2.57) and intermediate (42.25 ± 2.45) VW. The CQI was higher (P < 0.05) when the pelvic fat score was intermediate (3.22 ± 0.06) than that in lean (2.99 ± 0.08) and obese (2.90 ± 0.12) animals. The CQI was higher (P < 0.05) in the intermediate ovary group (3.19 ± 0.08) than in the small (2.96 ± 0.08) and large (2.95 ± 0.09) ovary groups. In live cows, the AFC was higher (P = 0.035) in females with large relative rima length than in those with small relative rima length (18.96 ± 1.97 and 14.76 ± 1.51, respectively). Similarly, AFC was greater (P = 0.0001) in females with large relative VW than in those with small relative VW (20.08 ± 1.36 and 11.16 ± 1.60, respectively). In conclusion, larger external genitalia relative to body size were good predictors of the ovarian follicular reserve in live animals.