Approximately 30% of all embryos and fetuses will not survive to birth. About 80% of this loss occurs before day 17, 10-15% between day 17 and 42 and 5% after day 42 (O’Connor, 2006).
Heat stress several days before and after insemination, can result in lower conception rate or embryonic death. This is due to elevated temperature of the uterine environment (O’Connor, 2006). Heat stress can also increase prostaglandin secretion which can then lead to the breakdown of the corpus luteum (CL) (Wolfenson et al., 1995).
One of the causes of embryo mortalities is the occational inability of the embryo to send a strong enough signal (Interferon-tau) to the uterus to reduce the secretion of prostaglandin F2α (PGF2α) (Thatcher et al., 1997).
Secretion of PGF2α by the uterus can lead to regression of the CL, which then has a negative effect on the survival of the embryo, as the CL protects the embryo (Thatcher et al., 1997).
Supplemental dietary fat can improve fertility via:
a) an improvement of negative energy status, leading to an earlier return to oestrus during the postpartum period and, therefore, improved fertility;
b) an increase in steroidogenesis (i.e. production of steroid hormones, e.g. progesterone) favourable to improved fertility;
c) manipulation of serum insulin concentrations, thereby stimulating development of ovarian follicles; and
d) altering the production and release of PGF2α, which causes regression of the CL (Staples et al., 1998).
Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA; C20:5n-3) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA; C22:n-6) are unsaturated and elongated fatty acids that are unique to fish oils (Ambrose et al., 2003).
Supplementing EPA and DHA can assist in the reduction of PGF2α secretion by the uterus and this may prevent regression of the CL and increase pregnancy rates (Burke et al., 1997; Staples et al., 1998; Mattos et al., 2000).
SalmateTM is a standardised natural powder source of EPA and DHA with guaranteed minimum levels of EPA and DHA (EPA and DHA levels in natural fish oil can vary a lot).
SalmateTM contains rumen protected (specialized coating), emulsified fish oil droplets of approximately 1 micron in diameter. This significantly increase the bio-availability of the EPA and DHA.
Shelf life of SalmateTM is 18 months, if stored correctly at room temperature and can be used in pelleted feed.
Supplementing SalmateTM to ruminants during the 7 days before conception up to 21 days after conception can assist in the decrease of embryonic mortalities. Commercial dairy trials done with SalmateTM resulted in up to 10% increase in cows bred that became pregnant.
SalmateTM can also be used to improve embryo flushing and embryo transfers.