Date of this Version
Theriogenology 75 (2011) 241–247
At the onset of puberty, seminiferous tubules rapidly increase in diameter, thereby occupying a greater proportion of the testis, resulting in a rapid increase in testicular size. The objective of the current studies was to evaluate ultrasonography for assessing testicular diameter, as a basis for ranking boars relative to their extent of pubertal development. In the initial study, prior to castration at 4, 5, 6, or 7 mo of age, testicular length and diameter were assessed by ultrasonography in 160 anesthetized boars. After castration, testes were weighed. Mean diameter of seminiferous tubules and percentage of the testis occupied by tubules were determined by histological evaluations of all testes. Testicular volume was calculated from length and diameter and was correlated with testicular weight (P < 0.001; r > 0.78) within each of the four age groups. At 4 and 5 mo of age, testicular diameter correlated positively (P < 0.001) with diameter of seminiferous tubules; this relationship was not significant at older ages. In two subsequent studies, testicular diameter determined ultrasonographically in conscious boars was highly correlated (r > 0.8) when assessed twice on the same day, or when diameter of the right was compared with diameter of the left testis. Similarly, testicular diameter obtained initially at 92 d of age correlated positively (P < 0.001) with the diameter observed at older ages, but the magnitude of the relationship decreased as time between evaluations increased. These findings supported ultrasonographic determination of testicular diameter during early pubertal development, as a means to rank boars of similar chronological age for extent of pubertal development.