Despite the importance of progesterone on the fertility of lactating dairy cows, the factors that affect post ovulatory progesterone concentration are still unclear. Thus, the aim of the present study was to identify factors associated with the post ovulatory progesterone rise following 1st insemination in lactating dairy cows. Data collected across a number of complimentary studies were compiled to produce a single database of 168 lactating Holstein Friesian dairy cows maintained under commercial conditions. In all animals a number of variables were measured during the insemination period and related to milk progesterone measured on day 5 following 1st artificial insemination (AI). Overall, 44% of cows conceived to 1st AI and while mean day 5 progesterone was not significantly higher in these cows, there was a significant quadratic relationship between milk progesterone concentration and conception rate. While a number of variables showed some association with progesterone concentration, the only variable showing a strong and repeatable relationship was plasma leptin concentration. We conclude that adequate but not excessive progesterone levels on day 5 bring about a better fertility, and plasma leptin concentration may be a much better indicator of metabolic status in lactating dairy cows.
"Experientia docet" - Experience is the best teacher