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Phase 4 (2009 Deadline)
New Approaches of Estrus Synchronization to Improve Reproductive Performance in Dairy Animals
J. Richard Pursley, Michigan State University
Nasim Ahmad, University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences (UVAS)
Pakistani Funding (HEC): $98,093
US Funding (Department of State): $88,780
Project Dates: November 15, 2010 - November 14, 2012 (completed)
Of total milk production in Pakistan during 2008-2009, cows were the source of 34 percent and buffaloes 62 percent. Despite their merits, buffaloes have relatively poor reproductive efficiency, particularly when bred artificially. All these factors lead to long calving intervals and reduced milk production. The latest technologies can help overcome these problems, including methods for synchronization of estrus and ovulation, and the objective of this collaborative study is to determine the effect of several factors on follicular development, estrus expression, ovulation, and pregnancy rate with the ultimate goal of improving livestock reproductive rates. The research should also be useful on the US side as well, as optimal management of the reproductive efficiency of dairy cows is a major factor contributing to efficiency and profitability of dairy farms in this county. By combining their complementary expertise and experience in both research and extension work with dairy farmers, this team hopes to make progress on problems directly related to Pakistani government priorities aimed at increasing meat and milk production in the country. By carrying out some of the experimental work in collaboration with Pakistani farmers, they hope that the project results will create a ripple effect and encourage commercial dairy operators to adopt new strategies to increase their production and profitability and thus improve the lives of Pakistanis associated with the livestock industry.
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2011 Show summary || Hide summary || Download full report
The S&T Conference in Dubai in March 2011 provided these researchers a chance to discuss their experimental plans in detail. As a result, they added anovular cows to the study, as anovular conditions (caused by delayed puberty or by animals taking longer after calving to begin ovulating again) are the primary reason for reduced reproductive efficiency in cattle and water buffalo. These conditions have significant impacts on the productivity of these animals and subsequently on the economic welfare of dairy farmers. Dr. Pursley arranged with the Michigan State University Dairy Farm to use their cattle as study subjects, and after the planned data collection techniques were validated the experiment has begun. MSU PhD student J.P. Martins is in charge of this experiment as part of his dissertation work, and data collection will proceed through June 2012.
In September 2011 Dr. Ahmad made a month-long visit to the United States, during which he spent a week with Dr. Pursley and his team at MSU. While in Michigan he visited the campus dairy farm and a large private farm and delivered a well-received seminar about his research and outreach programs in Pakistan. Dr. Ahmad and Dr. Pursley made plans for upcoming experimental work and scheduled monthly teleconferences to continue their dialogue. They hope to deliver a joint interactive workshop on bovine reproduction via teleconference in early 2012, and by the end of next year they expect to submit their results for publication in a major journal. Meanwhile, in late 2011 Dr. Pursley will be launching a collaborative effort with Merck Animal Health to develop a website that will include information for academic researchers, veterinarians, and producers in Pakistan.
2012 Show summary || Hide summary || Download full report
The PIs of the project held two conference calls in late October 2011 to discuss and review the collaborative research. On November 19, 2011, Dr. Pursley delivered an presentation via videoconferencing to approximately 150 veterinarians and researchers at the National Workshop on Strategies on Improvement in Livestock Reproduction
, which was organized at UVAS by the Pakistan Society for Animal Reproduction. His presentation focused on his lab’s current findings on possible options for dramatically improving the fertility of lactating dairy cattle by adjusting concentrations of progesterone. As a follow-up Dr. Ahmad and Dr. Pursley co-organized another workshop on April 11, 2012, which educated the 40 participants on using the latest reproductive technology to increase the number of calves born and improve milk production due to greater control of calving intervals. Participants will have the opportunity to take this information back to the farms where they work to enhance the livelihoods and lives of farmers and their families, and Dr. Pursley describes it as one of the most gratifying training events in which he has ever participated.
On the research side, the PIs and their students are currently collecting data to study how and why cattle fertility is affected as a result of different levels of the hormone progesterone. Dr. Nasim’s PhD student, Rizwan Yousaf, is expected to begin a one-year training visit to Michigan State around July 1, 2012. During his stay, Rizwan will work on ways of enhancing reproductive performance of cattle, with the ultimate aim of translating the findings from this joint project to Pakistani livestock producers. Another training workshop is also planned at UVAS later this year.
On April 11, 2012, Drs. Ahmad and Pursley conducted a workshop via videoconferencing to educate veterinarians and academicians in Pakistan. More than 40 attendees learned about how to use the latest reproductive technology to increase the number of calves born and improve milk production due to greater control of calving intervals. Many of the participants are employed on farms, so they could apply these new techniques to enhance the livelihoods and lives of farmers and their families. In July 2012, Drs. Ahmad and Pursley met at the International Congress on Animal Reproduction in Vancouver, Canada, and discussed upcoming collaborative experiments for this project. They also plan to conduct another workshop via videoconferencing this fall, with a focus on delivering their latest research findings to academicians and veterinarians. On the research side of the project, the team has collected data on more than 200 heifers as of early August 2012. Over the coming months they will continue gathering data and testing their hypothesis regarding the effects of progesterone concentration on ovulatory follicle development and fertility. In addition, Dr. Ahmad’s PhD student Rizwan Yousaf is planning to arrive in the United States to start a one-year training program later this summer. Mr. Yousaf will participate not only in experiments related to this project but also in work on his own related dissertation project on understanding the relationship between oocyte competence and fertility.