2021 journal article

Sexual behaviour, semen quality and fertility of young Border Leicester rams administered melatonin during spring


By: D. Kleemann*, J. Kelly*, L. Arney*, J. Len, A. Tilbrook* & S. Walker*

author keywords: Border Leicester; Fertility; Melatonin; Ram; Sexual maturity
Source: Web Of Science
Added: August 9, 2021

This study was conducted to test the hypothesis that between year variability in reproductive response to melatonin treatment of young Border Leicester (BL) rams in spring was related to sexual maturity at the time of treatment. Two variables of sexual maturity (mating behaviour and semen quality) were examined. In Experiment 1, mating activity of melatonin-treated and untreated rams was examined at two sites before a flock mating at one site. In Experiment 2, testosterone concentrations, semen quality and variables of in vitro fertilising capacity were examined. In Experiment 1, melatonin treatment did not alter sexual behaviour (latency to nose, total nosings, courtings including Flehmen expression, attempted mounts, mounts, ejaculations) with the exception of a lesser (P < 0.05) Flehmen expression at Site 1 whereas values for most variables were greater (P < 0.05) at Site 2. Treatment resulted in a greater pregnancy rate (89 % and 82 %, respectively; P < 0.05) and advanced distribution of pregnancies (P < 0.001) at Site 1. Testicular size and testosterone concentrations were also greater (P < 0.05) as a result of melatonin treatment in spring whilst the reverse occurred in autumn. In Experiment 2, sperm motility and in vitro fertilising capacity were greater (P < 0.05) and acrosome damage less (P < 0.05) as a result of melatonin treatment. In conclusion, variability in age at sexual maturity of young BL rams at spring mating can be reduced with melatonin treatment and is associated with differences in sexual behaviour, testicular growth, testosterone concentrations, and sperm quality.