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Breed differences in fetal and placental development and feto-maternal amino acid status following nutrient restriction during early and mid pregnancy in Scottish Blackface and Suffolk sheep

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1024-1033
Number of pages10
JournalReproduction, Fertility and Development
Issue number8
StatePublished - 2011


This study assessed the effect of feeding 0.75 energy requirements between Days 1 and 90 of pregnancy on placental development and feto-placental amino acid status on Day 125 of pregnancy in Scottish Blackface and Suffolk ewes carrying a single fetus. Such moderate nutrient restriction did not affect placental size, placentome number or the distribution of placentome types. Although fetal weight was unaffected by maternal nutrition, fetuses carried by nutrient restricted mothers had relatively lighter brains and gastrocnemius muscles. Suffolk fetuses were heavier and longer with a greater abdominal circumference, relatively lighter brains, hearts and kidneys, but heavier spleens, livers and gastrocnemius muscles than Blackface fetuses. Total placentome weight was greater in Suffolk than Blackface ewes. Ewe breed had a greater effect on amino acid concentrations than nutrition. Ratios of maternal to fetal amino acid concentrations were greater in Suffolk ewes than Blackface ewes, particularly for some essential amino acids. The heavier liver and muscles in Suffolk fetuses may suggest increased amino acid transport across the Suffolk placenta in the absence of breed differences in gross placental efficiency. These data provide evidence of differences in nutrient handling and partitioning between the maternal body and the fetus in the two breeds studied.

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