Stress, strain, and pregnancy outcome in postpartum cows
Stress affects the productivity and fertility of cattle. Stress causes strain and individual animals experience different amounts of strain in response to the same amount of stress. The amount of strain determines the impact of stress on fertility. Typical stresses experienced by cattle include environmental, disease, production, nutritional, and psychological. The effect of stress on the reproductive system is mediated by body temperature (heat stress), energy metabolites and metabolic hormones (production and nutritional stresses), the functionality of the hypothalamus-pituitary-gonadal (HPG) axis and (or) the activation of the hypothalamuspituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis. The strain that occurs in response to stress affects uterine health, oocyte quality, ovarian function, and the developmental capacity of the conceptus. Cows that have less strain in response to a given stress will be more fertile. The goal for future management and genetic selection in farm animals is to reduce production stress, manage the remaining strain, and genetically select cattle with minimal strain in response to stress.
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