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Shearing during late pregnancy increases size at birth but does not alter placental endocrine responses in sheep

  • C. A. Rosales Nieto (a1), A. Mantey (a1), B. Makela (a1), T. Byrem (a2), R. Ehrhardt (a1) (a3) and A. Veiga-Lopez (a1)...


Shearing during the latter half of pregnancy is a common practice to improve flock health and productivity. Previous studies have demonstrated that shearing pregnant ewes at mid or late pregnancy is associated with an increase in lamb birth weight. In the present study, we used singleton Polypay × Dorset pregnant sheep, to investigate the potential roles of placental function and changes in maternal metabolism in underlying this increased birth weight response. Two groups were randomly established and blocked at enrollment by animal BW, body condition score and subcutaneous adipose tissue depth. The groups were shorn (SH; n = 18) or not (C; n = 20) at gestational day (GD) 107 ± 1 (mean ± SEM). Weekly maternal plasma samples were collected between shearing and birth, but only six samples were assayed for progesterone, pregnancy-associated glycoproteins (PAG1), glucose and non-esterified fatty acids (NEFAs). At birth, sex, birth weight, and newborn body mass index (BMI) were recorded. Maternal BW during mid- to late-pregnancy was similar between groups. Shearing resulted in increased lamb birth weight and BMI (P < 0.05) regardless of fetal sex but did not affect the maternal concentration of PAG1 or progesterone from GDs 100 to 142. After shearing (GD100) and up to lambing, shorn females had higher circulating glucose concentrations (P < 0.05), but not NEFA, compared to the control group. Maternal circulating PAG1, progesterone, glucose or NEFA concentration across pregnancy did not differ according to lamb sex. Across pregnancy, birth weight was positively associated with PAG1 (P < 0.001), but not with progesterone concentrations. In conclusion, weight and BMI at birth were higher in both sexes upon shearing in singleton pregnancies. Despite PAG1 being associated with birth weight, late-pregnancy shearing did not alter the placental endocrine response. Whether other placental factors are altered upon shearing and may influence the increase in birth weight and BMI remain to be investigated.


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Present address: Facultad de Agronomía y Veterinaria, Universidad Autónoma de San Luis Potosí, San Luis Potosí 78321, México



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Shearing during late pregnancy increases size at birth but does not alter placental endocrine responses in sheep

  • C. A. Rosales Nieto (a1), A. Mantey (a1), B. Makela (a1), T. Byrem (a2), R. Ehrhardt (a1) (a3) and A. Veiga-Lopez (a1)...


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