Interpretive Summary: Effect of supplementation with different fatty acid profile in sheep
By Anne Zinn
A paper recently published in the Journal of Animal Science evaluated the effects of maternal supplementation with an enriched source of monounsaturated fatty acid or of eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid during the first third of gestation on productive and metabolic status of their offspring pre- and postweaning, postweaning plasma metabolites and hormones concentrations, and hypothalamic relative mRNA expression during the finishing period. Supplementation with omega-3 and omega-9 fatty acids during late gestation regulates offspring development, but their effect in the first third of gestation in sheep is still unknown. The research team hypothesized that supplementation in ewes with an enriched source of eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid during early gestation would increase the offspring body weight during the finishing period as compared to offspring born from ewes supplemented with a difference source of fatty acids.
Results of the present study indicated that early gestation could play an important role in developmental programming, demonstrating that supplementation with eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid during early gestation increased the plasma non-esterified fatty acids during the pre- and postweaning period of the offspring. Additionally, the finished body weight was greater for the offspring born from dam supplementation with calcium salts enriched with monounsaturated fatty acids and finished with eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid supplementation. It was determined that the difference in growth was not associated with changes in dry matter intake, but that change could be explained by changes relative to mRNA expression in the hypothalamus.
The mechanism that regulates growth and why fatty acids have different effects depending on the stage of gestation that they are used is still unknown. Further research is necessary to understand the mechanism regulating the increase in lamb performance due to fatty acid supplementation in early gestation.
The full paper can be found on the Journal of Animal Science webpage.