Animal Science Department


Date of this Version

November 2004


Published in J. Anim. Sci. 2005. 83:130–135. Copyright American Society of Animal Science. Used by permission.


Seventy-one 10th-generation gilts from White Line-1 (WL-1 = randomly selected control line) and White Line-2 (WL-2 = selected for an index of ovulation rate and prenatal survival rate) were used to compare the pattern of follicular development and atresia during the follicular phase of the estrous cycle. Gilts were treated with PGF on d 13 of the estrous cycle (d 0 of induced follicular development) to induce luteolysis and assigned randomly within line and sire for ovary recovery on d 0, 2, 3, 4, 5, and the day after estrus. Ovaries were evaluated for numbers of corpora albicantia and small (2 to 2.9 mm), medium (M1 = 3 to 4.9 mm; M2 = 5 to 6.9 mm), and large (≥7 mm) follicles. The concentration of estradiol-17β in follicular fluid was used to classify individual M2 and large follicles as estrogen-active (≥100 ng of estradiol-17β/mL) or inactive (<100 ng of estradiol-17β/mL). The WL-2 gilts had a greater ovulation rate than WL-1 gilts at their pretreatment estrus (20.4 vs. 13.8 corpora albicantia; P < 0.001). The small and M1 follicle populations decreased rapidly in both lines over time (P < 0.001). The M2 follicle population increased in both lines between d 0 to 4 and then decreased. Mean estradiol concentration of M2 follicles increased in both genetic lines over time (P < 0.02). All large follicles were estrogen-active in both lines; the number of large follicles increased with day (P < 0.001) and was similar in both lines. The number of estrogen-active M2 follicles was similar in both lines, increasing to d 3 and 4 and then decreasing (P < 0.01) thereafter. However, the total number of estrogenactive follicles (sum of estrogen-active M2 and large follicles) was greater in WL-2 than in WL-1 gilts (P < 0.04), increasing to the ovulatory potential by d 3 in WL-1 gilts, but continuing to increase through d 4 in WL-2 gilts. Selection of an additional six ovulatory follicles from the estrogen-active M2 follicle pool after d 5 was required in both lines to achieve the projected ovulation rate, and after estrus, the number of large follicles remained insufficient to attain the ovulatory potential of each line.