Progesterone treatments are used to increase submission rates in postpartum dairy cows; however, in many cases the protocol is used as a blanket therapy for all cows without regard for physiological or disease state. The objective of this study was to identify the physiological or disease classes of cows that respond well (or not) to synchronization of estrus via progesterone. Dairy cows (n = 402) were monitored peri and postpartum to establish their physiological or disease status. Animals were classified as having negative energy balance, clinical lameness, uterine infection (UI), anovulatory anestrus, high somatic cell counts, and healthy (H). Blood samples were collected at five different time points and analyzed for metabolites. All animals received an 8-day controlled internal drug release protocol, which included GnRH at insertion and PGF2α the day before removal. Response to the protocol was determined by visual observation of estrus synchronization. Conception rate was determined by ultrasonography between Days 32 and 35 after artificial insemination. Animals without UI were 1.9 times more likely to respond and two times more likely to be confirmed pregnant than those with UI. There was no relationship between negative energy balance and clinical lameness in the visual estrous response, but both conditions were associated with reduced conception rates. Dairy cows in anovulatory anestrus responded successfully to the protocol in both estrous response and conception rates. High glutathione peroxidase concentrations had a positive effect on conception rates, whereas high non-esterified fatty acids and beta-hydroxybutyrate had a negative effect on the estrous response. In conclusion, disease and physiological states of dairy cows determined the response to progesterone-based synchronization. The more disease or physiological problems the cows had, the lower the estrous response and conception rates; cows with these problems were not ideal candidates for synchronization. Both anestrus and healthy dairy cows were good responders to progesterone-based synchronization.
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