Success in production of domestic animals depends heavily on the female to produce numerous young. For high reproductive efficiency, it is important to know the time of puberty and what factors can be manipulated to cause early onset of puberty without jeopardizing subsequent reproductive performance and to be familiar with hormonal changes during the estrous cycle of domestic animals and during the ovulatory cycle of poultry. In mammals, the expression of estrus is an outward indicator of pending ovulation. Knowledge of the temporal relationship between estrus and ovulation is essential to ensure optimum fertilization. The reproductive cycle of animals is influenced by photoperiod (day length), temperature, nutrition, pheromones, and stress. These factors, managed correctly, can have positive influences on reproductive efficiency. Finally, knowledge of the length of a productive breeding period is essential because reproductive efficiency decreases with age. This article provides an overview of the endocrinology of female reproduction of the pig, cow, sheep, goat, and chicken.
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