Four autumn-calving dairy herds were selected to investigate the effect of an injection of prostaglandin in the period 14 to 28 days (mean 22 days) after calving on subsequent fertility. The cows were selected on the basis of having a condition likely to affect their fertility, including assisted calving, endometritis, retained fetal membranes, milk fever, cows with five or more lactations, cows having twins, or a combination of any of these conditions. They were assigned to treatment or control groups and paired as closely as possible on the basis of their condition and date of calving. Milk progesterone concentrations were measured on the day of treatment and then three and 10 days later. The trial ran for four months and involved 90 treated and 90 control cows. The combined data from all the animals in the trial failed to show any difference between the calving to conception interval, the first service conception rate or the numbers of services per conception of the treated and control groups. A Student's paired t test for groups of cows with a particular condition, both within individual herds and in all the herds, failed to show any significant effect of treatment (P greater than 0.05). Milk progesterone data showed that the presence of a corpus luteum did not influence the outcome of prostaglandin treatment. There was no evidence for excessive failure of luteolysis. It was concluded that there was no benefit in a routine injection of prostaglandin to dairy cows in the period 14 to 28 days after calving when re-breeding commenced more than 70 days after calving.
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