The administration of melatonin via intravaginal sponges is an effective method of advancing the breeding season in ewes. In the present study the fertility of melatonin-treated ewes has been compared with that of ewes induced to ovulate by conventional treatment. On June 25, 15, 15-month-old ewes (group 1) were given intravaginal implants containing melatonin in silastic tubing. On August 8, 13 similar ewes (group 2) were given Veramix sponges which were removed 12 days later, when they were given 500 iu pregnant mare's serum gonadotrophin (PMSG). Two intact raddled rams were introduced to the combined groups on August 21. The mean date of mating was September 3 +/- 1.5 for group 1 and August 21 +/- 0.2 for group 2 ewes. All the ewes in group 1 and 10 in group 2 (77 per cent) were mated. All the ewes were slaughtered approximately 50 days after mating and their reproductive tracts removed. The mean ovulation rates were 2.1 and 2.3 in groups 1 and 2, respectively. The results indicate that conception rates of 87 per cent and 61.5 per cent of ewes put to the ram were obtained in the melatonin-treated and PMSG-treated groups, respectively. At slaughter the melatonin-treated group were found to have a mean of 1.47 live fetuses per ewe put to the ram and the PMSG-treated group a mean of 1.08. It can therefore be concluded that melatonin implantation is an effective method for the advancement of seasonal breeding in anoestrous sheep, and that the fertility achieved is at least as good as that given by conventional progestogen-PMSG treatment.
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