A study of hormones and reproduction in male and female turkeys under natural mating or artificial insemination conditions

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Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

This study evaluated mating behaviors of turkeys, the effects of these behaviors on reproduction, the effects of the presence or absence of the opposite sex on reproduction and changes in serum luteinizing hormone (LH) and prolactin concentrations due to natural mating or artificial insemination.

Male body conformation did not significantly affect male mating efficiency, whereas male sex drive was correlated with efficiency. Female sex drive, while positively correlated with the number of attempted matings, decreased following an incomplete or completed mating. Neither semen quality nor egg production was affected by degree of sexual activity.

In males used for artificial insemination, the presence or absence of females did not affect any semen quality measurement. Egg production of artificially inseminated females was positively affected by male presence during the last third of the laying period, while fertility and hatchability of fertile eggs was not.

Very few differences in serum LH or prolactin concentrations were observed following natural mating behaviors or artificial insemination. Serum LH and prolactin concentrations did not change following any male mating behavior. For mated females, a significant decrease in LH was observed in non-receptive hens following introduction of the male into the breeding pen. No changes in prolactin were observed following any female mating behavior. Although no differences were observed in LH concentration in males following semen collection, prolactin significantly increased in males maintained in the presence of females following this procedure. No changes in serum LH or prolactin concentrations were observed following artificial insemination of females.