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Effects of induced hypothyroidism on weight gains, lactation, and reproductive performance of primiparous Brahman cows.

  • Thrift, T A
  • Bernal, A
  • Lewis, A W
  • Neuendorff, D A
  • Willard, C C
  • Randel, R D
Published Article
Journal of animal science
Publication Date
Jul 01, 1999
PMID: 10438032


Primiparous, spring-calving Brahman cows (BW = 425.0 +/- 13.8 kg, body condition score [BCS] = 5.0 +/- .2 units; SEM) were used to study the effects of thyroid manipulation on weight gain, milk production, and reproduction. Nine cows served as controls. Nine cows were induced to become hypothyroid by daily ingestion of 4 mg/kg BW of 6-n-propyl-2-thiouracil (PTU). Cows were stratified to treatment 1 d after calving based on season of birth, BW, BCS, calf sex, and calf sire. The treatment period lasted for 84 d and was followed by a 56-d posttreatment period. Cow BW, BCS, and calf weight were recorded twice weekly. Milk production was estimated at 14, 28, 56, 84, 98, 112, and 140 d after calving. Weekly blood samples were obtained for analysis of triiodothyronine (T3), thyroxine (T4), and progesterone (P4). Estrus was monitored twice daily with the aid of a fertile bull equipped with a chin ball marker. Hypothyroidism was effectively induced in all PTU cows during the treatment period. The PTU cows gained more (P = .002) weight (54.6 +/- 7.6 kg) and tended (P = .06) to increase body condition (.61 +/- .17 units) more than control cows (15.7 +/- 7.6 kg; .11 +/- .17 units) during the treatment period. Control calves gained at a faster rate (.85 +/- .04 kg/d; P < .01) than PTU calves (.70 +/- .04 kg/d) during the treatment period. Milk production was lower (P < .05) in PTU cows on d 56 and 84. During posttreatment all trends were reversed, and BW, BCS, calf weight, and milk production were similar between the two groups by d 140. Reproductive performance was not affected by induction of hypothyroidism. In conclusion, induction of hypothyroidism was successful in increasing cow weight and BCS gains and suppressing milk production during the treatment period, but these changes were not successful in improving reproductive performance of primiparous Brahman cows.

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