Animal Science Department


Date of this Version

June 2001


Published in J. Anim. Sci. 2001. 79:1877–1882.


Plasma follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) was evaluated in gilts from two studies in which ovulation rate was increased through direct selection for number of corpora lutea (CL) to determine whether selection for ovulation rate affected FSH secretion during prepubertal development. In the first study, 76 control and 110 selected gilts of University of Nebraska gene pool lines were bled twice during prepubertal development. Plasma FSH concentrations were greater (P < 0.05) at 53 (13.5%) and 75 (21.3%) d of age in selected than in control gilts. In the second study, 254 control gilts, 261 gilts from a line selected for ovulation rate, and 256 gilts from a line selected for uterine capacity were bled at three prepubertal ages. Plasma FSH was greater (P < 0.05), relative to controls, on d 34 (> 24%), 55 (> 13%), and 85 (> 10%) in White Composite gilts selected for either increased ovulation rate or for greater uterine capacity. Unilateral ovariectomy and hysterectomy were performed at 160 d of age on random gilts in these three lines (n = 377); weights of these organs were evaluated to determine whether selection affected their development. Ovarian and uterine weights were less (P < 0.01) in the control than in the ovulation rate line. Subsequently, ovulation rate was determined during pregnancy (n ≥ 130 gilts/line). Controls had fewer (P < 0.01) CL (14.6) than gilts of the ovulation rate line (17.7) but numbers similar (P > 0.10) to those of gilts of the uterine capacity line (14.7). Within each line, plasma FSH only on d 85 correlated positively with subsequent ovulation rate (P < 0.03, 0.001, and 0.08; r = 0.17, 0.30, and 0.15 for control, ovulation rate, and uterine capacity lines, respectively). Ovarian weight at 160 d of age also correlated with subsequent ovulation rate (P < 0.03 and 0.001; r = 0.23 and 0.38) in control and ovulation rate gilts but not in uterine capacity gilts (P > 0.10; r = 0.11). Gilts selected for increased number of CL, in two independent studies, had greater concentrations of FSH during prepubertal development than respective controls. The modest but significant, positive association of FSH at 85 d of age with subsequent ovulation rate provides additional support for using plasma FSH in prepubertal gilts to indirectly select for ovulation rate.