Increasing dietary energy tends to decrease the ovulatory response and produce fewer viable embryos following superovulation of beef cattle. Data in sheep indicate that high energy intake can decrease progesterone concentrations (P4), although effects in cattle are not as clear. The objectives were to evaluate the effects of roughage type and concentrate supplementation on P4 concentrations, follicle growth and subsequent oocyte fertilisation and embryo development in vitro. Forty-two beef heifers were allocated to 3 treatment groups: (i) silage ad libitum plus 6 kg concentrates (silage + conc.; n = 14); (ii) silage ad libitum (silage; n = 14) or (iii) hay ad libitum (hay; n = 14) for 40 days. Oestrus was synchronised using a controlled intravaginal progesterone releasing device (CIDR) for 7 days plus prostaglandin F2 alpha (15 mg luprostiol) administered 2 days before CIDR withdrawal. Ovaries were stimulated with 600 i.u. of follicle stimulating hormone (pFSH) administered in 6 equal doses at 12-h intervals, starting 12 days after CIDR withdrawal. Daily blood samples were collected from 3 days after CIDR insertion until CIDR withdrawal, and for another 3 days prior to pFSH, for P4 determination. Oocytes were recovered postmortem 12 h after the last pFSH injection, matured, fertilised and cultured in vitro. There was no overall effect of diet (P > 0.05) on P4 concentrations. The number of follicles grown in heifers on silage + conc (18.8 +/- 3.3), silage (23.5 +/- 3.4) or hay (18.1 +/- 2.6) were not affected by the dietary treatment (P > 0.05). The percentage of oocytes fertilised from heifers on hay (88%) was higher compared to oocytes from heifers on silage (79%; P < 0.05), but was not different (P > 0.05) compared to the proportion of oocytes from heifers on silage + conc. (86%). The percentage of fertilised oocytes that cleaved was higher from heifers on silage (94%; P < 0.01) compared with oocytes from heifers on hay (82%) or silage + conc. (86%). The proportion of embryos that developed to blastocyst was not different (P > 0.05) between groups of oocytes from heifers on silage + conc. (8%), silage (14%) or hay (15%). Heifers on silage produced numerically more blastocysts (silage: 19 from 14 heifers; silage + conc.: 8 from 14 heifers; hay: 12 from 14 heifers). These results suggest that dietary treatment used prior to oocyte recovery did not significantly influence the developmental competence of the oocytes in vitro.
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