Prolactin response in beef cows and heifers suckling one or two calves

M. B. Wheeler, G. B. Anderson, C. J. Munro, G. H. Stabenfeldt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Blood was collected, at 5-min intervals for 3 h, via jugular cannulation every 14 days during the first 4 months post partum from beef cows and heifers, 4 suckling 2 calves and 4 suckling 1 calf. Calves were isolated from the dams to prevent suckling for approximately 4 h before and 2 1/2 h during sampling to obtain baseline values for prolactin, measured by radioimmunoassay. During the last 30 min of sampling, calves were allowed to suck. Milk samples were also collected at 28-day intervals from 60 females, 30 with twins and 30 with single calves, beginning 2 weeks after calving and continuing until calves were weaned at 180 days of age. No differences were observed between dams with 1 and 2 calves for baseline plasma prolactin level or for prolactin response to the suckling stimulus by 1 or 2 calves. However, milk prolactin concentration was significantly higher (P<0.01) for dams with 2 calves, probably reflecting the more frequent suckling that occurs with twins. Milk prolactin value in this study was not highly correlated with the post-partum interval to first ovulation from another study on these animals. It is concluded that prolactin is not the primary factor controlling the longer post-partum interval to first ovulation in beef cattle with twins.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)243-249
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Reproduction and Fertility
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1982
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Embryology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Developmental Biology


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