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The environment that the oocyte develops in (follicle) and the mRNA that is produced (mRNA abundance) during development were examined. Androgen levels within the follicle were higher in heifers (≤ 2 years) that never established a pregnancy compared to cows that stayed in the herd at least 3 years and had at least one successful pregnancy. These high androgen levels were associated with increased abundance of several candidate mRNAs in the cumulus-oocyte complex (COC), which includes the oocyte and somatic cells immediately surrounding the oocyte, isolated from the dominant follicle. The data suggest that androgen levels represent a marker for oocyte quality which could be used to select for females to retain in the herd.