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Extension of the Cashmere Growth Period in Spanish Goats with Melatonin

T. Wuliji1, A. Litherland2, A. L. Goetsch1, T. Sahlu1, R. Puchala1, T. A. Gipson1, and L. J. Dawson1

1E (Kika) de la Garza Institute for Goat Research, Langston University, Langston, OK, 2AgResearch, Grasslands Research Centre, Private Bag 11008, Palmerston, New Zealand

Melatonin suppresses blood prolactin levels, and the prolactin surge in fur animals is usually associated with fiber shedding. Therefore, use of melatonin to induce out-of-season breeding could affect the seasonal pattern of cashmere fiber growth in goats by extending the active, anagen phase. Eighty 80 female Spanish goats (15 2 yr of age and 65 doelings) were used to determine influences of spring melatonin treatment on cashmere fiber growth. Treatments were control (C); melatonin implant (18 mg; Regulin, Shering Pty. Ltd.) without (M) and with three bromocryptine mesylate (215 mg) implants (IB) (Innovative Research of American, Sarasota, FL); and oral administration of melatonin (3 mg/d for 5 wk) (Sigma Chemical Co., St. Louis, MO) without (O) or with bromocryptine mesylate (OB). Melatonin treatments started 5 wk before breeding. Cashmere growth was examined by clipping fiber regrowth in a 10 × 10 cm area on the mid-side each month. Mean daily clean fiber growth rate (mg/d) estimated by mid-side patch clipping was greater (P < 0.01) for melatonin-treated groups compared with C in April (44.7, 82.9, 77.5, 80.6 and 71.5 mg/d) and May (39.6, 69.8, 81.4, 63.9 and 63.5 mg/d); in the overall 12-mo period fiber growth was greatest (P < 0.05) among treatments for I and IB (12.5, 15.9, 15.3, 13.1, and 12.9 g for C, I, IB, O, and OB, respectively). Mean cashmere fiber diameter was greater (P < 0.05) for I, IB, O and OB compared with C (17.4, 18.7, 18.9, 18.4, and 18.1 microns) in a pooled sample for February, March, and April, while in May, June, and July diameter for C was lowest (P < 0.05) among treatments (16.8, 18.6, 18.7, 18.4, and 18.8 microns for C, I, IB, O, and OB, respectively). In conclusion, spring melatonin treatment for out-of-season breeding appeared to extend the period of cashmere fiber growth, and the lack of effect of bromocryptine mesylate suggests no additive effect to melatonin treatment. Oral administration of melatonin had effects on cashmere fiber growth measured by mid-side patch clipping similar to those of an implant early in the experiment, but over the entire 12-mo period fiber growth was not influenced.


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