Agriculture Science Today 006: “Sexy Goats”

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Sexy Male Goats

Goat picture courtesy of @bossyacres helmet added courtesy of @StaffaRoadTrip


Today Tim and Steph discuss male goats and their unique (lady goats may say sexy) scent, also known as pheromones. They note the first pheromone discovered in moths in 1959 named bombykol and stink fights among lemurs and ant foraging behavior. The possibility of human pheromones was discussed in regards to studies of menstrual cycle syncing in women. You can read about that here and here. Interestingly related by being smell mediated but not pheromone as far as scientists know MHC research on sweaty mens tshirts was discussed which you can read about here.

Male Effect in Goats

Steph laid out what the “male effect” was as seen in sheep and goats and noted the title and author of paper being discussed “Identification of an Olfactory Signal Molecule that Activates the Central Regulator of Reproduction in Goats” by Murata and colleagues published in the recent edition of “Current Biology” a Cell Press journal publication. Tim talked about the difference between polyestrous cows and seasonal goats and sheep and brought up research from the 1980s that first noted the “male effect phenomina”

Goat Helmets?

Steph discussed the unique cap they made for the goats to collect the volatile compounds (smells) emitted from the the goats’ heads and the reason they thought that the place to search for pheromones. Tim talked about how the researchers tested the volatiles collected in the goat headwear to identify potential pheromone compounds. 7 compounds were identified testing castrated male goats against intact male goats.

Lady Goat Response

Steph discussed hormones in female goats associated with estrus focusing on GnRH pulse generation and LH which were the two main things looked at in the study. Tim talked about the findings from the experiment the researchers carried out first measuring hormone response in female goats to male goat hair then Steph laid out the response of hormone levels to synthesized compounds based on the ones found to be different between intact and male goats. Tim spoke on the response of LH and how levels of it followed the increase in GnRH pulsation. Steph finished out the discussion on hormones revealing that the synthesized compound found to have greatest effect on hormone levels was 4-ethyloctanal.

Pheromones to replace hormones in livestock reproduction?

Tim and Steph summarize the findings of the paper and discuss possible applications namely in reproductive management of livestock and possibility of finding pheromones in polyestrous animals such as cattle.

That’s all folks!

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