Short communication: Prepartal concentration of estradiol-17β in heifers with stillborn calves

U. S. Sorge, D. F. Kelton, R. Staufenbiel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


This study was conducted to investigate hormonal imbalances preceding stillbirths and dystocia in primiparous heifers. The study was conducted between 2003 and 2004 on a German dairy farm, including 433 heifers. Starting 3 wk before calving, a weekly blood sample was collected. At calving, another blood sample was obtained, and the calving ease (grade 0 = unassisted to grade 2 = heavy pull with mechanical calf puller), sex, birth weight, as well as vitality status (stillborn, alive) of the calf were recorded. The blood serum was analyzed for estradiol-17β and progesterone concentration. At parturition, the measured estradiol-17β concentration was greater in heifers delivering bulls than in those with female calves and was increasing with greater birth weight of the calf and increasing calving difficulty score. Already 2 wk before calving, the serum estradiol-17/3 concentration was significantly smaller in heifers with stillborn than live calves. On the other hand, the progesterone concentration was greater 2 wk before calving in heifers with stillborn calves, but it was unaffected by the birth weight or sex of the calf or the calving difficulty score. Stillborn and live calves did not differ in birth weight or pregnancy duration. The smaller estradiol-17β concentrations of the heifers with stillborn calves could indicate an abnormality of the placenta or an abnormality of hormonal signals from the calf to the placenta in the weeks before the calving.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1433-1437
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Dairy Science
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Estradiol-17β
  • Heifer
  • Hormone
  • Stillbirth


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