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The effect of shearing on the energy metabolism of the pregnant ewe

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  09 March 2007

M. E. Symonds
Department of Physiology & Biochemistry, University of Reading, Whiteknights, Reading RG6 2AJ
M. J. Bryant
Departments of Agriculture, University of Reading, Whiteknights, Reading RG6 2AJ
M. A. Lomax
Department of Physiology & Biochemistry, University of Reading, Whiteknights, Reading RG6 2AJ
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1. Metabolizable energy (ME) intakes, heat production, non-protein respiratory quotient (NPRQ) and the plasma concentrations of glucose, non-esterified fatty acids (NEFA), 3-hydroxybutyrate, insulin, growth hormone (SH) and cortisol were measured in shorn and unshorn pregnant ewes.

2. Lamb birth-weight was 17% higher from shorn ewes despite similar ME intakes in the two groups. Shearing resulted in a significant decrease in the digestibility of dry matter and energy.

3. Both shorn and unshorn ewes were found to be in positive nitrogen balance and negative energy balance. Heat production was 28% higher in shorn ewes. This increase in heat production in the shorn group could be completely accounted for by an increase in the oxidation of fatty acids as measured using the NPRQ values.

4. Despite an apparent increase in the use of fat as an energy source there were no effects of shearing on the mean plasma concentrations of NEFA, 3-hydroxybutyrate, GH and cortisol.

5. Measurements made at 1 h intervals for 24 h indicated a tendency for the concentrations of glucose to be increased and insulin decreased in shorn ewes, particularly, between 6 and 11 h after feeding.

6. It is concluded that shearing pregnant ewes at 8 weeks before lambing results in a chronic increase in energy requirements which are met by oxidizing body fat depots. The cold stress induced by shearing may also inhibit insulin secretion resulting in increased plasma glucose concentrations. The effects of shearing on energy metabolism in the ewe are discussed in relation to the nutrient supply for the developing fetus.

Papers on General Nutrition
Copyright © The Nutrition Society 1986



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