A review of some factors affecting the expression of libido in beef cattle, and individual bull and herd fertility

Petherick, J. C. (2005) A review of some factors affecting the expression of libido in beef cattle, and individual bull and herd fertility. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 90 3-4: 185-205. doi:10.1016/j.applanim.2004.08.021

Author Petherick, J. C.
Title A review of some factors affecting the expression of libido in beef cattle, and individual bull and herd fertility
Journal name Applied Animal Behaviour Science   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0168-1591
Publication date 2005-03
Year available 2004
Sub-type Critical review of research, literature review, critical commentary
DOI 10.1016/j.applanim.2004.08.021
Volume 90
Issue 3-4
Start page 185
End page 205
Total pages 21
Place of publication Amsterdam, Netherlands
Publisher Elsevier BV
Language eng
Abstract This paper examines some of the factors that affect the expression of libido in beef cattle, focusing on the male and the free-ranging situation. The ways in which bull libido is assessed and the relationship between libido test results and fertility are discussed. Genetics play a role in determining libido, but there are many environmental factors affecting its expression, and a number of these factors influence sexual activity in both tests of libido and paddock mating. Herd fertility is multi-factorial and, consequently, it is difficult to draw definitive conclusions about the relationship between libido and fertility. Multiple males increase the expression of libido, but it is uncertain whether this translates into improvements in herd fertility. However, there are consequences for individual bull fertility, as there is ample evidence of inherent differences between bulls. Male:female ratios appear to have minor effects on libido and fertility. Anecdotal evidence indicates that multiple matings with the same or different bulls may reduce the duration of oestrus. Social relationships between bulls can affect the expression of libido, with subordinate bulls being inhibited by the presence of dominant bulls. There is evidence that dominant bulls may achieve more matings at pasture, but this is not necessarily shown in their fertility. Older bulls show greater expression of libido in tests and appear more efficient in serving, although these changes may reflect greater sexual experience. Provided bulls are sexually mature and physically able to mate, age per se appears not to affect fertility, but age interacts with dominance, which can influence fertility. There is evidence of breed differences in expression of libido, but this appears not to be demonstrated in fertility. There is anecdotal evidence that bulls and females prefer to mate with similar genotypes/phenotypes with implications for fertility. Limited research on thermal and nutritional effects indicate some adverse consequences for libido of climatic extremes for unadapted bulls and of over-feeding, but not under-feeding. Limited research has investigated the effects on libido and fertility of multiple stressors associated with relocation; relocation to dramatically different environments has long-lasting detrimental consequences for fertility. Too few studies have been conducted to draw conclusions about the effects of topography and herd dispersion on libido and fertility. Temperament is likely to affect the expression of libido when animals are put into new situations, but this has not been critically researched. In the light of this review, the implications for managing cattle to optimise fertility are discussed and suggestions made as to areas where further research is needed.
Keyword Beef cattle
Sexual behaviour
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status Non-UQ
Additional Notes Available online 1 October 2004

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Critical review of research, literature review, critical commentary
Collection: Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 20 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
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Created: Mon, 07 Mar 2011, 14:30:27 EST