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Journal Articles Translational Animal Science Year : 2024

Short-term responses of meat ewes facing an acute nutritional challenge in early-mid lactation


Simulating a consequence of a climate change event on feed availability, responses of Mediterranean meat ewes facing an acute undernutritional challenge (CHA; i.e., fed only low nutritional value cereal straw) were evaluated at a sensitive physiological stage (i.e., early suckling). Forty Romane ewes were chosen at early-mid pregnancy (around 2 mo) according to parity (20 primiparous, PRIM; 20 multiparous, MULT); feed efficiency genetic line of their sires (residual feed intake [RFI]; efficient, RFI−, n = 10 per parity; inefficient, RFI+, n = 10 per parity); litter size (i.e., bearing twins, diagnosed by ultrasonography); body weight (BW, kg) and body condition score (BCS) (initial BW and BCS [mean ± SD]: 51.6 ± 7.41 kg; 2.5 ± 0.20, respectively; representing flock’ averages per parity). Effects on dry matter intake (DMI), ewes’ BW and BCS, subcutaneous dorsal fat thickness (DFT), energy metabolism (plasma non-esterified fatty acids [NEFA], β-hydroxybutyrate (β-OHB), glucose, urea, triiodothyronine [T3]), and lambs’ growth (BW and average daily gain [ADG]; g/d) were examined before, during and after CHA. Individuals’ profiles of the response-recovery to CHA were described using a piecewise mixed-effects model. The fixed effect of parity and genetic line and the random effect of individual (ewe) were considered. A linear mixed-effects model was fitted to explore the effects on lambs’ growth. The 2-d straw-only CHA had significant effects on most of the recorded parameters. Meaningful drops and recoveries were observed on ewes’ DMI, BW, and DFT with effect on postchallenge levels. BW, BCS, DFT, or DMI were also affected by parity (MULT > PRIM) but not by genetic line. Plasma NEFA, β-OHB, glucose, urea, and T3 responded well to CHA with drops in T3, urea, and glucose levels, whereas NEFA and β-OHB significantly increased after CHA. MULT ewes presented sharper β-OHB recovery from CHA than PRIM (P ≤ 0.05). With this study, we provide tangible and necessary data for an emerging field of research. Our results give new insights into how such a short and abrupt CHA affects some key zootechnical and physiological parameters, and to what extent the impacts of CHA and the ewes’ response-recovery are influenced. It also revealed potential between-individual differences in the adaptive capacities of ewes, which require further exploration.
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hal-04392789 , version 1 (15-01-2024)





Eliel González-García, Marcelo Gindri, Christian Durand, Noëllie Lafon, Sébastien Douls, et al.. Short-term responses of meat ewes facing an acute nutritional challenge in early-mid lactation. Translational Animal Science , 2024, 8, ⟨10.1093/tas/txad141⟩. ⟨hal-04392789⟩
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