Effects of long-term estrogen implants in beef heifers

D. M. Kniffen, W. R. Wagner, P. E. Lewis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Crossbred beef heifers (n = 78) were assigned randomly to one of three treatments. Heifers received either no implant, one estradiol-releasing implant (Compudose), or two estradiol-releasing implants. Heifers were implanted at birth and then reimplanted every 150 d. Calves were maintained with the cows until weaning at approximately 200 d of age. Heifers were placed in the feedlot as one group and fed a growing diet for 56 d. Following the growing phase, heifers were segregated into their respective treatment groups and fed until selected by industry buyers for harvest. Beginning at 1 yr of age and continuing every 14 d until puberty or harvest, heifers were palpated per rectum, and blood samples were collected for determination of ovarian activity and attainment of puberty. Serum progesterone of ≥1 ng/mL and(or) palpation of a detectable corpus luteum were criteria of puberty. At weaning and again at harvest, an x-ray was taken of the left front leg of six heifers selected randomly from each group. Metacarpal bones III and IV from the same animals were collected at harvest and transected for determination of epiphyseal plate closure. The x-ray scores and the actual measurements had a correlation of .94. Epiphyseal plate closure occurred in a dose-related manner, with heifers on the higher dose of estrogen having earlier plate closure than heifers on the lower dose. At harvest, reproductive tissues and carcass data were collected for all heifers. Eighteen of 25 untreated control heifers (P < .05), 6 of 26 heifers treated with one implant, and 2 of 26 heifers treated with two implants attained puberty by the end of the experiment. No differences (P > .10) were detected among treatment groups for carcass traits. These data suggest that early and continuous treatment of heifers with estradiol implants can retard reproductive function.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2886-2892
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of animal science
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1999

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Food Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Genetics


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