Interpretive Summary: Environmental stress during the last trimester of gestation in pregnant cows and its effect on offspring growth performance and response to glucose and adrenocorticotropic hormone
By: Kirsten R Nickles, Alejandro E Relling, Alvaro Garcia-Guerra, Francis L Fluharty, Anthony J Parker
Predictions for the Midwest U.S. indicate that both winter and spring temperatures and precipitation will increase. These climatic changes could result in muddier conditions during winter and spring in the Midwest. It has previously been demonstrated that a muddy environment increases the net energy requirements of mature cow’s by approximately 3.9 Mcal/d. If cows are not provided this extra energy and are exposed to mud during late gestation, it is likely that this will cause an adverse environment for the conceptus that could result in compromised growth and metabolism later in life. This study evaluated the developmental programming effects after birth and into the growing phase with beef steers born to cows that were housed in a muddy environment during late gestation compared with steers born to cows that were housed in pens bedded with wood chips during late gestation. Based on the present results, the mature cows housed in the muddy conditions weighed approximately 37.4 kg less than cows housed in pens bedded with wood chips during late gestation, however, calf birth weight, postnatal growth, postnatal feed intake and gain:feed, and postnatal response to glucose and adrenocorticotropic hormone was not affected. This indicates that the mature cows were able to mobilize body stores and supplied the fetus with adequate nutrients during gestation without impairment of growth or postnatal response to glucose and adrenocorticotropic hormone.
Read the full article in the Journal of Animal Science.