U.S. Department of Agriculture: Agricultural Research Service, Lincoln, Nebraska


Date of this Version


Document Type



Theriogenology 119 (2018) 35e42. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.theriogenology.2018.06.010


© 2018 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


Although antral follicle count is a repeatable parameter across life that is positively associated with fertility, its use at weaning as a tool to discard less fertile heifers has not been extensively evaluated. The hypotheses of this work are: 1) maximum antral follicle count (MAFC) is repeatable between weaning and pre breeding evaluations, allowing selection of more fertile heifers at an early age, 2) heifers with high MAFC have growth and development parameters linked to an earlier puberty and pregnancy, 3) MAFC has a positive correlation with AMH concentrations, so that both could be used inter changeably. In this study, Hereford (n = 42 and n = 50) and Braford (n = 40 and n = 50) females were used in years 1 and 2; respectively, in a completely randomized experimental design. Heifers were examined for five to ten days at two different moments (post weaning and pre service), to determine MAFC. The concentrations of Anti müllerian hormone (AMH) were evaluated on the day of MAFC assessment. Growth and development parameters were evaluated post weaning and pre service. The repeatability of MAFC between post weaning and pre service evaluations was poor in three cases (Hereford Year 1 = 0.36 and 2 = 0.39 and Braford, Year 2 = 0.32) but it was high for Braford in Year 2 (0.72). The AMH repeatability between post weaning and pre service evaluations was high in one case (Braford Year 2 = 0.72) and moderate in the others (Year 1, Hereford = 0.50 and Braford = 0.52 and Year 2, Hereford = 0.50). In Year 2, Braford heifers with greater MAFC attained puberty at an earlier age (r2 = 0.129; P = 0.0196). Also, diminished MAFC corresponded with decreased growth and development, thus less Braford heifers with low MAFC were inseminated (2/16), compared to those with medium (12/17) and high MAFC (7/17; P < 0.01). Moreover, Braford heifers with low AFC had less progesterone in the cycle post insemination but pregnancy rate was not affected. In Braford heifers in Year 2, there was a high correlation between MAFC and AMH concentrations (0.85 P < 0.001). The results of these experiments indicate that post weaning MAFC and AMH concentrations may be applied to select those Braford heifers that attain puberty at an early age, but these tools are not useful in Hereford heifers.