Reproduction and Physiology

The Use of a Vaginal Conductivity Probe to Influence Calf Sex Ratio via Altered Insemination Time

  • M. L. Pugh (Iowa State University)
  • Mel Pence (Iowa State University)
  • J. N. Caamano (Iowa State University)
  • Suelee Robbe (Iowa State University)
  • L. L. Timms (Iowa State University)
  • John U. Thomson (Iowa State University)
  • Russ Bredahl (Iowa State University)
  • C. R. Youngs (Iowa State University)


One hundred eighty-nine mixed breed beef heifers from 13 consignors enrolled in the MACEP heifer development project were utilized in this study. Heifers were synchronized by feeding 0.5 mg melengestrol acetate (MGA) per head per day for 14 days followed by an injection of prostaglandin F2a (PGF2a; 25 mg Lutalyse®) 17 days after the last MGA feeding. Each heifer was fitted with a Heatwatch® transmitter on the morning of PGF2a administration to facilitate detection of estrus. Vaginal conductivity measurements were taken using an Ovatec® probe every 12 hours for 96 hours beginning at the time of PGF2a injection. Heifers randomly assigned to produce a female calf were inseminated near the onset of estrus (as indicated by probe values of £ 55 on the decline). Heifers randomly assigned to produce a male calf were inseminated approximately 24 hours after the onset of estrus (as indicated by probe values of ³ 60 on the incline). All heifers not inseminated by 96 hours after PGF2a were mass inseminated in an attempt to impregnate as many heifers as possible. Heifers that were diagnosed as pregnant as a result of the artificial insemination were subjected to ultrasonography for fetal sex determination. Only 70 of the 189 heifers (37.0%) exhibited estrus according to Heatwatch® and incidence of estrus was influenced by heifer average daily gain, reproductive tract score, and disposition score. Heifers receiving a disposition score of 3 (78.7) had a higher (P<.05) probe reading at AI than those receiving a disposition score of 1 or 2 (70.8 and 72.5, respectively). Heifers with probe readings at insemination of 80 - 84 and > 84 had lower (P<.05) pregnancy rates to AI (13.6 and 0.0%, respectively) than heifers with probe readings in the ranges of < 60, 60 - 64, 65 - 69, 70 - 74, and 75 - 79 (35.7, 40.9, 31.4, 35.3, and 26.9% respectively). Heifers that were bred when probe values were increasing had a lower (P<.05) percentage of male fetuses (34.4%) than those bred during a period of decreasing probe values (69.2% male fetuses). These results demonstrate that a vaginal conductivity probe may be a useful tool to determine an insemination time that could potentially alter calf sex ratio.

Keywords: ASL R1652

How to Cite:

Pugh, M. L., Pence, M., Caamano, J. N., Robbe, S., Timms, L. L., Thomson, J. U., Bredahl, R. & Youngs, C. R., (2000) “The Use of a Vaginal Conductivity Probe to Influence Calf Sex Ratio via Altered Insemination Time”, Iowa State University Animal Industry Report 1(1).

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Published on
01 Jan 2000
Peer Reviewed