31 March 2000

Earlier fertility tests?

HEIFERS and bulls could be tested for their genetic fertility potential at just a few months old, helping selection programmes to improve fertility.

Currently fertility can only be measured in adult dairy cows, but hormone challenge could be used in bulls and heifers before puberty, said Melissa Royal of the University of Nottingham Cattle Fertility Group.

Dr Royal said that challenging young heifers with a specific hormone and then taking blood tests to assess their response revealed genetic differences.

While more animals need to be studied to confirm the heritability estimates, being able to test animals at a young age could help select breeding animals for good fertility, she said. &#42