Assessment of field fertility and several in vitro sperm characteristics following the use of different Angus sires in a timed-AI program with suckled Nelore cows
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In order to provide information that may help researchers to understand the main cause(s) of differences in bull fertility frequently observed in field trials, this study aimed to investigate conception rates as well as several in vitro sperm characteristics of different sires of unknown fertility utilized in a Timed-AI (TAI) program. Suckled Nelore cows submitted to the same TAI protocol were allocated into eight breeding groups of approximately 120 animals each. Frozen semen doses from three Angus bulls and three different batches from each bull were utilized. Approximately 100 doses from each batch were used in TAI. Sires, batches and AI technicians were equally distributed across breeding groups. Cows were examined for pregnancy diagnosis 40 d after TAI. For in vitro sperm analyses, the same thawing procedure was repeated in the laboratory to mimic field conditions. The following in vitro sperm characteristics were assessed: computerized motility, thermal resistance, plasma and acrosomal membrane integrity, lipid peroxidation, morphology, morphometry and chromatin structure. No effect of breeding group, body condition score, AI technician and sire was observed. However, some significant differences among bulls were detected in laboratory analyses. Semen from sire presenting numerically lower (P > 0.05) pregnancy/AI also presented lower (P < 0.05) values in all sperm characteristics analyzed in thermal resistance test at 4 h (Total Motility, Progressive Motility, Average Path Velocity, Straight-Line Velocity, Curvilinear Velocity, Amplitude of Lateral Head Displacement, Beat Cross Frequency, Straightness, Linearity, and Percentage of Rapidly Moving Cells), higher (P < 0.05) Major and Total Defects in sperm morphological test, lower (P < 0.05) Length, Ellipticity and Fourier parameter (Fourier 0) in sperm morphometric analysis as well as higher (P < 0.05) chromatin heterogeneity. It was concluded that, although no bull effect was observed in the field experiment, the sire that presented numerically lower pregnancy/AI also presented lower semen quality according to the laboratory analyses performed. (C) 2012 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.