Effects of heat stress on conception in Holstein and Jersey cattle and oocyte maturation in vitro

Jihwan Lee1, Doo-San Kim1, Inchul Choi2,*, Donghyeon Kim1, Junkyu Son1, Eunjeong Jeon1, Dajinsol Jung1, Manhye Han1, Seungmin Ha1, Seongsoo Hwang1
Author Information & Copyright
1Dairy Science Division, National Institute of Animal Science, RDA, Cheonan-si 31000, Korea.
2Department of Animal and Dairy Sciences, Chungnam National University, Daejeon 34134, Korea.
*Corresponding Author: Inchul Choi, Department of Animal and Dairy Sciences, Chungnam National University, Daejeon 34134, Korea, Republic of. Phone: +82-42-821-5788. E-mail:

© Copyright 2022 Korean Society of Animal Science and Technology. This is an Open-Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License ( which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


South Korea, located in East Asia in the northern hemisphere, is experiencing severe climate changes. Specifically, the heat stress caused by global warming is negatively affecting the dairy sector, including milk production and reproductive performance, as the major dairy cattle Holstein-Friesian is particularly susceptible to heat stress. Here, we collected artificial insemination and pregnancy data of the Holstein and the Jersey cows from a dairy farm from 2014 to 2021 and analyzed the association between the conception rate and the temperature-humidity index, calculated using the data from the closest official weather station. As the temperature-humidity index threshold increased, the conception rate gradually decreased. However, this decrease was steeper in the Holstein breed than in the Jersey one at a temperature-humidity index threshold of 75. To evaluate the effects of heat stress on the oocyte quality, we examined the nuclear and cytoplasmic maturation of Holstein (n = 158, obtained from six animals) and Jersey oocytes (n = 123, obtained from six animals), obtained by ovum pick-up. There were no differences in the nuclear maturation between the different conditions (HS: 40.5℃, non- heat stress: 37.5℃) or breeds, although the Holstein oocytes seemed to have a lower metaphase II development ( <italic>p </italic>= 0.0521) after <italic>in vitro</italic> maturation under heat stress conditions. However, we found that the Holstein metaphase II oocytes exposed to heat stress presented more reactive oxygen species and a peripheral distribution of the mitochondria, compared to those of the Jersey cattle. Here, we show that weather information from local meteorological stations can be used to calculate the temperature-humidity index threshold at which heat stress influences the conception rate, and that the Jersey cows are more tolerant to heat stress in terms of their conception rate at a temperature-humidity index over 75. The lower fertility of the Holstein cows is likely attributed to impaired cytoplasmic maturation induced by heat stress. Thus, the Jersey cows can be a good breed for the sustainability of dairy farms for addressing climate changes in South Korea, as they are more resistant to hyperthermia. 

Keywords: Dairy cattle; heat stress; oocyte; reactive oxygen species; mitochondria