Reliable biomarkers predictive of reproductive performance and herd longevity in cattle have heretofore not been developed. However, circulating concentrations of anti-Müllerian hormone (AMH) are positively associated with numerous markers of ovarian function and fertility including antral follicle count (AFC) during follicular waves and size of the ovarian reserve (total number of morphologically healthy follicles and oocytes in ovaries) in single-ovulating species like cattle and women. The present study tested the hypothesis that heifers with low AMH concentrations will be removed (culled) from herds for poor reproductive performance after birth of their first calf at a greater rate and therefore have shorter productive herd life (length of time in herd after birth of first calf) compared with their age-matched herdmates with higher AMH. To test this hypothesis, Holstein heifers were subjected at 11 to 12 months of age to a single measurement of serum AMH concentration (n = 281 animals) and a single ovarian ultrasonography to determine AFC. To examine if AMH concentrations were associated with productive herd life, heifers were divided into quartiles based on AMH concentrations and DairyComp305 records were analyzed to determine if culling rates for poor reproduction at 36, 48 and 60 months of age and productive herd life (length of time in herd after first calf) differed between quartiles. All cows had the opportunity to produce 3 calves and most had started their third lactation. Results showed that the 1st quartile of heifers with the lowest AMH concentrations had the lowest AFC (P<0.01) and an approximate 6 month shorter (P<0.01) productive herd life compared with their herdmates with higher AMH in the 2nd, 3rd and 4th quartiles combined. At 48 months of age, culling rate for poor reproduction was highest (27.4%) for the 1st quartile of heifers with the lowest AMH concentrations then decreased (P<0.01) in an inverse linear fashion to 18.6%, 17.2% and 12.4% for the 2nd, 3rd and 4th quartile of heifers with higher AMH concentrations. Although results were generated in a single herd, these findings are the first to link AMH concentration in young adult cattle, and correspondingly AFC, ovarian function and size of the ovarian reserve, with higher culling rates for poor reproduction and a shorter productive herd life. These findings also imply that a single determination of AMH in dairy heifers may be a reliable diagnostic tool to identify cattle with superior reproductive potential and enhanced herd longevity. (Project supported by National Research Initiative Competitive Grant no. 2007–35203–18178 and Animal and Food Research Institute Competitive Grant no. 2013-67015-20962 from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, gift of DSL AMH kits from Dr. W.E. Roudebush formerly at Beckman-Coulter Inc., and by funds from the Michigan AgBioResearch).
Anti-Müllerian Hormone: A Potential Diagnostic Marker to Predict Reproductive Performance and Herd Longevity of Dairy Cows / Jimenez Krassel, F; Scheetz, D; Neuder, Lm; Ireland, Jlh; Pursley, Jr; Smith, Gw; Tempelman, R; Ferris, T; Roudebush, We; Mossa, Francesca; Lonergan, P; Evans, Aco; Ireland, Jj. - In: BIOLOGY OF REPRODUCTION. - ISSN 0006-3363. - (2014).