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Reproductive microbiome and cytokine profiles associated with fertility outcomes of postpartum beef cows

By: Molly S Smith, Kyle J Hickman-Brown, Brooke E McAnally, Ramiro V Oliveira Filho, Gabriela Dalmaso de Melo, Ky G Pohler, Rebecca K Poole

Efficiently producing cattle to feed a growing population can come with many challenges. A few challenges occur soon after a cow has given birth, and subsequent reproductive performance can be impacted. Bacteria within the reproductive tract can trigger an immune response and together play a role in affecting fertility in cows. The objectives of this experiment were to distinguish the commensal vs. harmful bacteria that reside in the reproductive tract and to characterize the immune response in beef cattle via uterine and vaginal flushes. The results demonstrated that bacteria within the reproductive tract of beef cattle changes before breeding. The current study also suggests that changes in immune response before breeding can be associated with fertility outcomes. Additional research may be worthwhile to evaluate management tactics to positively shift bacteria within the reproductive tract and reduce inflammatory immune responses to improve fertility and increase reproductive efficiency. Future research is necessary to identify the causes of bacterial shifts and how it relates to pregnancy establishment.

Read the full article in the Journal of Animal Science.