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Is it time to reconsider the relative weight of sociosexual relationships compared with photoperiod in the control of reproduction of small ruminant females?

Abstract : In goats and sheep from the temperate and subtropical latitudes, the breeding season lasts from early autumn to late winter, whereas the anestrous season lasts from late winter to late summer. In prepubertal or postpartum females, the duration of the quiescent period depends mainly on the season of parturition and of nursing duration. In both situations, the ovulatory activity starts only during the breeding season. Photoperiod has been generally considered as a major regulator of all these periods of reproductive activity/inactivity in female sheep and goats (ie puberty, seasonal anestrus, postpartum anestrus). In particular, regarding seasonal anestrus, the sociosexual interactions between males and females have been considered to have only a modulatory role, limited to few weeks preceding the onset or after the offset of the breeding season. Nonetheless, we recently showed that the use of sexually active males plays a crucial role to trigger ovulatory and estrous activities during the anestrous season and also in prepubertal and postpartum females. In fact, in females exposed to sexually active males, puberty is strikingly advanced in comparison with females exposed to sexually inactive castrated males or to isolated females (6 mo vs 7.5 mo). Most females ( 85%) exposed during the anestrous season to sexually active males ovulated, whereas a low proportion of them ovulated when in contact with sexually inactive males (<10%). Interestingly, the presence of these sexually active males allows females to ovulate all the year round and prevents the seasonal decrease of LH plasma concentrations in ovariectomized females treated with an estradiol implant. Finally, the presence of sexually active males triggers ovulation in postpartum anestrous females nursing their offspring. All these findings show that sexually active males can play an important role to reduce anestrous periods. We need, therefore, to reconsider the relative weight of sociosexual relationships, compared with photoperiod, in the management of reproduction of goat does and ewes.
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https://hal.inrae.fr/hal-03150955
Contributor : Eric Marchoux <>
Submitted on : Wednesday, February 24, 2021 - 11:52:27 AM
Last modification on : Friday, September 17, 2021 - 11:20:06 AM

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J.A. Delgadillo, H. Hernández, J.A. Abecia, Matthieu Keller, Philippe Chemineau. Is it time to reconsider the relative weight of sociosexual relationships compared with photoperiod in the control of reproduction of small ruminant females?. Domestic Animal Endocrinology, Elsevier, 2020, 73, pp.1-7. ⟨10.1016/j.domaniend.2020.106468⟩. ⟨hal-03150955⟩

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