Seasonal effects on oestrus patterns and progesterone profiles of Yankasa ewes of different age-groups in the sub-humid tropics
Oestrus patterns and serum progesterone profiles of 10 adult and 10 yearling Yankasa ewes were investigated in the late hot-dry and late-wet seasons in the subhumid tropical climate of Zaria, Nigeria. The proportions of ewes which came on heat once, twice or thrice within the experimental periods in the late hot-dry and late-wet seasons were 25, 15 and 0%, and 5, 10 and 85% respectively, while mean oestrous cycle length was significantly longer (P<0.001) in the hot-dry season than in the late-wet season (30.9 vs 18.4 days) due to the higher incidence of anoestrus in the former. However, the mean duration of oestrus was not affected by season. Mean serum progesterone levels were significantly (P<0.05) higher in the late-wet season than in the late hot-dry season (1.57 vs 0.52 ng/ml). However, there was a highly significant (P<0.001) interaction between season and age group in mean serum progesterone levels due to a relatively greater depression in progesterone levels in yearling ewes during the hot-dry season compared with adult ewes. The observed disruptions in the oestrus cycle and serum progesterone levels of the ewes in the hot-dry season confirm the adverse effect of heat stress on the reproductive behaviour of ewes.
Keywords: Oestrus, Yankasa, Progesterone, Season, Subhumid, Tropics.