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Application of assisted reproductive technologies in buffaloes is limited to some extent by farmers’ inability to detect oestrus because of its poor expression. The present study aimed at investigating reliability of a milk progesterone enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) to assess the ovarian cyclicity during post partum, oestrus and post-breeding periods in water buffaloes.
Progesterone concentrations were measured by an ELISA in milk of 23 postpartum buffaloes in relation to oestrus, pregnancy, body condition score (BCS) and milk production. Two milk samples were taken at 10days intervals, every month starting from day 30 and continued to day 150 post partum. BCS and milk production were recorded during sample collection. Milk samples from bred buffaloes were collected at Day 0 (day of breeding), Days 10–12 and Days 22–24. Defatted milk was preserved at −80°C until analysis. Pregnancy was confirmed by palpation per rectum on Days 70–90.
Seventeen buffaloes had 47 ovulatory cycles, one to four in each, 13 were detected in oestrus once (28% oestrus detection rate). Progesterone concentration ≥1ng/ml in one of the two 10-day-interval milk samples reflected ovulation and corpus luteum formation. The intervals between calving to first luteal activity and to first detected oestrus varied from 41 to 123days (n=17) and 83 to 135 (n=13) days, respectively. Eight buffaloes were bred in the course of the study and seven were found pregnant. These buffaloes had a progesterone profile of low (<1ng/ml), high (≥ 1ng/ml) and high (≥ 1ng/ml) on Day 0, Days 10–12 and Days 22–24, respectively. Buffaloes cycling later in the postpartum period had fewer missed oestruses (P<0.05). Buffaloes with a superior BCS had a shorter calving to oestrus interval and produced more milk (P<0.05).
Milk progesterone ELISA is a reliable tool for monitoring ovarian cyclicity and good BCS may be an indicator of resuming cyclicity in water buffalo.