Ovaries were collected over a period of two years from heifers slaughtered at under 30 months of age and used to harvest 1757 oocytes. After in vitro maturation, fertilisation and culture, the proportions of oocytes and cleaved embryos that developed to blastocysts were significantly higher (P<0·01) in the autumn, from September to November, than in the spring, from March to May. In contrast, embryo development, as assessed by oocytes that developed to eight or more cells and blastocysts, was lowest (P<0·01) in the spring. These results were consistent during the two-year study, indicating a seasonal fluctuation in oocyte competence.
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