Vet Practitioner 10(2):132-35.

Efficiency of progesterone treatments for estrus induction and conception in goats during the non-breeding season

Arvind Sharma# and Govind Narayan Purohit *

Department of Animal Reproduction Gynaecology and Obstetrics College of Veterinary and Animal Science Bikaner, Rajasthan, India 334001

Current address: Veterinary Officer Palsana, Sikar, Rajasthan, India.


Three progestagen treatments for the induction of out-of-season breeding in goats were evaluated using 550 two to three year old goats of the Sirohi and Jamunapari breeds on a commercial farm. The progestagen regimens were 1. 300 mg progestagen vaginal sponge (P4 sponge) inserted for 18 days (n=150); 2. 300 mg P 4 sponge inserted for 18 days plus 300 IU eCG administered i.m. on the day of sponge withdrawal (n=220); 3. 25 mg P4 in oil administered i.m. daily for 10 days (n=130); and 4. Untreated control (n=50). Estrus was detected by vasectomised males and confirmed by ultrasound visualization of a mature ovarian follicle. Goats in estrus were inseminated with fresh semen. Pregnancy diagnosis was by trans-rectal ultrasonography performed every 15 days from day 20 after insemination until kidding. The estrus response was significantly (P<0.05) higher in the P4 sponge (76%) and P4 sponge + eCG (80%) treatments than the P4 in oil treatment

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(49%) which was significantly (P<0.05) higher than control (9%). The onset of estrus was significantly (P<0.05) earlier in the P4 sponge (24.6 ± 2.4 h) and P4 sponge + eCG (22.7 ± 1.8 h) treatments than in the P4 in oil treatment (46.9 ± 3.2 h) and control (96.0 ± 12.3 h) treatments. Pregnancy rate differed significantly (P<0.05) between the P4 sponge (36.0%) and P4 sponge + eCG (45.5%) treatments and they were significantly higher (P<0.05) than for the P4 in oil treatment (32.3%) and control (4.0%) treatments. There were 2 abortions in the P4 sponge treatment, 4 in the P4 sponge + eCG treatment, 4 in the P4 in oil treatment and none in the control. Consequently, the kidding rates reflected the pregnancy rates. It was concluded that progesterone administered in impregnated sponges or as i.m. injections successfully induce estrus during the nonbreeding season in goat.

Key words: Goat, progesterone, estrus, pregnancy, kidding.

* Corresponding author Tel: +91 151 2202396; fax: +91 151 2543419 E-mail address: (G.N.Purohit).

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Reproductive seasonality is a major limitation in goat production in sub-tropical and high latitudes (Delgadillo et al., 2000). Various treatments have been suggested to control this phenomenon, including hormonal treatments (Whitley and Jackson, 2004) male effect and alternating photoperiodic cues (Chemineau et al., 1999). Estrus induction by altering photoperiodic cycles usually involve a sequence of long days (2.5 months) followed by short days (Chemineau et al., 1992) or a melatonin implant (Donavan et al., 1994). Although photoperiodic alterations offer potential benefits in bringing goats to estrus during the non-breeding season however, a long time is spent in these procedures. Progesterone or progesterone analogues have generally been used to synchronize estrus in goats during the breeding and non-breeding season (Ak et al., 1998). The most widely used procedures for estrus synchronization are 12 to 21 days flurogestone acetate (FGA) or medroxyprogesterone acetate (MAP) impregnated intra-vaginal sponge treatments (Romano, 1996, 1998; Leboeuf et al., 1998; Romano et al., 2000) and an intramuscular injection of PMSG at progestagen withdrawal (Ak et al., 1998; Greyling and Van der Nest, 2000; Motlomelo et al., 2002). The application of photoperiodic alterations appears to be difficult and costly under a farm situation. The effectiveness of different progestagen treatments is known to be variable (Gordon, 1975; Smith et al., 1981). The commercially marketed implants are not available at many locations, and their high cost has led to development of sponges impregnated with progesterone powder (Naqvi et al., 1996). The objective of the present study was thus; to compare the effectiveness of

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progesterone impregnated sponges/progesterone injections for estrus induction and conception in goats during the non-breeding season.



The study was carried out at a commercial goat farm (Madhu farms, NH-11, Balekhan, PO Govindgarh, Teh. Chomu, Rajasthan, India) during the non-breeding season (April to June 2006) using two breeds Sirohi and Jamunapari. Non-pregnant goats aged 2-3 years and maintained on uniform conditions of feeding and management were randomly allocated to progestagen treatments for estrus induction.


Progestagen (P4) sponges were prepared as per previously described methods (Naqvi et al., 1996). Briefly, a small sponge was cut round and a long silk thread was tied in the centre. The same was autoclaved. Crystalline progesterone powder (Central Drug House, New Delhi) was dissolved in ethanol (Merck, India) in a quantity so as to give a final concentration of 300 mg progesterone per mL. The sponge was charged with 1 mL of the progesterone solution and introduced in the vagina of a goat using a vaginal speculum and a glass tube. After pushing the sponge deep in the vagina, the glass tube and speculum were withdrawn. Progesterone in oil (P4 oil) was prepared by dissolving 250

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mg of hydroxyprogesterone caproate (Inj P-Depot, Sarabhai-Zydus, India) in 9 mL of vitamin A (Inj Vitamin A 600,000 units per mL, Virbac Animal Health, Mumbai, India) so as to give a final concentration of 25 mg per mL. Goats were randomly allocated to one of the following treatments 1. P4 sponge for 18 days; 2 . P4 sponge for 18 days and an i.m. injection of 300 IU eCG (Inj Folligon, Intervet Holland) at sponge withdrawal; 3. P4 in oil 25 mg daily i.m. injection for 10 days and 4. Untreated control. Animals in treatment 1, 2 and control were also administered 2 i.m. injections of 2 mL vitamin-A given 3 days apart.

Estrus detection and breeding

Estrus was detected daily by parading a vasectomised buck twice daily starting from the day of completion of the P4 treatments. Trans-rectal ultrasonography was done on the day of estrus and at 15 days interval starting from day 20 of mating to record the follicular growth and pregnancy by using a linear array 5.0 MHz trans-rectal (5.0L BPL, India) ultrasound probe. Goats were inseminated twice at 12 h internal from 24-36 h of estrus detection with liquid semen collected from South African Boehr bucks, diluted with Tris- buffer and kept in a refrigerator (Used within 48 h of dilution) as per previously described methods (Purohit, 2001). The pregnancy rates were calculated from actual kiddings.

Statistical analysis

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The estrus response percentage and pregnancy rates were compared by chi-square test. The time to the onset of estrus was compared by analysis of variance.

RESULTS The estrus response was significantly (P<0.05) higher in the P4 sponge (76%) and P4 sponge + eCG (80%) treatments than the P4 in oil treatment (49%) which was significantly (P<0.05) higher than control (9%). Within the treatments, the combination of P4 sponge and eCG treatment yielded the highest estrus response but, these were nonsignificantly higher compared to P4 sponge alone but significantly higher compared to daily P4 injections and control. The estrus onset took significantly (P<0.05) lower time in P4 + eCG (22.7 ± 1.8 h) treatment compared to P4 sponge alone (24.6 ± 2.4 h) or P4 in oil injections. The estrus onset was significantly (P<0.05) delayed in P 4 in oil injection (46.9 ± 3.2 h) treatments (Table 1). At estrus follicles of 6 to 9 mm were visible over either of the ovaries. The estrus duration varied between 26.3 ± 2.4 to 28.3±2.5 h in the three treatments but was non-significantly different. Pregnancy could be diagnosed easily at day 20 post insemination by finding of the hypo echoic fetus in an anechoic fluid within the uterine lumen. The sensitivity and specificity of pregnancy diagnosis at this stage was low as a few of the goats diagnosed to be either pregnant or non-pregnant were later found to be incorrect. However, all animals that were diagnosed to be pregnant at 35 days of pregnancy by ultrasonography kidded subsequently resulting into a positive and negative predictive value of 100% at this time. The complete fetus and the cotyledons could be easily visualized at day 50 of pregnancy

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The pregnancy rates were significantly (P<0.05) higher in the P4 + eCG treatments (45.5%) compared to P4 alone (36.0%) or P4 in oil (32.3%). An exceptionally small proportion of untreated control goats evidenced estrus and kidded subsequently during the study period.


The estrus response during the present study was significantly higher with the use of prepared sponges used alone or with eCG compared to when P 4 in oil was used as daily injections for 10 days. Various forms of progestagens and different methods of administration have been used in anestrus goats to induce estrus (Amoah and Gelaye, 1990; Wildeus, 1999). Similar to the present study when Mashona goats were treated with norgestomet ear implants or natural progesterone sponges 92% and 83% were bred within 21 days (Kusina et al., 2000). Similarly, treatment of goats with MAP vaginal sponges in combination with 200 IU of PMSG at sponge withdrawal allowed 100% of Damascus goats to be mated (Zarkawi et al., 1999). The proportion of Egyptian goats expressing estrus when they were treated with norgestomet in combination with PGF2 alpha 24 h before implant withdrawal and GnRH 24 h after implant withdrawal, or the same treatment without GnRH was 77.5 and 85% during the non-breeding season. High estrus response (62.5%-100%) has previously been recorded with the use of FGA or MAP during the breeding season (Romano, 1996, 1998, 2002; Greyling and Van der Nest, 2000; Motlomelo et al., 2002). The estrus response to P4 in oil was significantly

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lower and the estrus onset was also delayed in this treatment group compared to other treatments, yet this was significantly higher compared to untreated controls. Researchers have previously reported the onset of estrus to occur within 6-120 h following progestagen withdrawal (Feritas et al., 1996b; Romano, 1998; Greyling and Van der Nest, 2000; Leboeuf et al., 2003; Nur et al., 2005). The reasons for such differences have been explained previously (Romano, 2002; Nur et al., 2005). The pregnancy rates were significantly higher in P 4 + eCG treatment compared to P4, P4 in oil or control. However, the pregnancy rates were not significantly different for the P4 and P4 in oil treatments. The pregnancy rates reported previously were 64 and 70% for treatment with norgestomet and progesterone implants respectively (Kusina et al., 2000). Likewise pregnancy rates varied between 65.2 to 73.7% for estrus induction using combinations of FGA, MAP, PMSG and PGF2 alpha in Anatolian black does (Nur et al., 2005). The pregnancy rates recorded in this study are comparatively lower compared to previous studies that recorded conception rates of between 51.7 to 87.5% in goats synchronized with intra-vaginal progestagen sponges during thee breeding and nonbreeding season (Feritas et al., 1996; Greyling and Van der Nest 2000; Motlomelo et al., 2002; Nur et al., 2005). This could possibly be due to differences in breed, geographic location or the detrimental effects of estrus synchronization on sperm transport and survival in the female reproductive tract (Pearce and Robinson, 1985). The predictive values of ultrasonography for pregnancy diagnosis and the sonographic features recorded in the present study are similar to previous reports (Gearhart et al., 1988; Doize et al., 1997; Gonzalez et al., 2004).

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It was concluded that sponges impregnated with progesterone powder or progesterone injections can be used for estrus induction in goats during the non-breeding season.


The authors are highly thankful to the management and owners of Madhu Farms, Govindgarh, Chomu, Rajasthan, India for their permission to work on their farm.


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Table 1. The estrus response (%) time (h) to onset of estrus after the end of the estrus induction treatment and pregnancy rate in goats treated with different progestagen regimens during the non-breeding season.

Treatment P4 sponge P4 sponge + eCG P4 in oil Control

Number of animals treated 150 220 130 50

Estrus response 114 (76%) 176 (80)%)a 64 (49%)b 04 (09%)c

Estrus onset 24.6±2.4 22.7±1.8a 46.9±3.2c 96.0± 12.3d

Pregnancy rate (Percent) 36.0a 45.5b 32.3a 4.0c

Figures in parentheses represent percentage. Figures with different superscripts in the same column differ significantly (P<0.05).

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