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

By: Eliel González-García, Marcelo Gindri, Christian Durand, Noëllie Lafon, Sébastien Douls, Gaëtan Bonafe, Valentin Coulon, Dominique Hazard, Laurent Bonnal, Anne Tesnière, Irene Llach, Sara Parisot, Laurence Puillet

Climate change is imposing unexpected nutritional challenges to livestock (in time and magnitude). In this context, the individual adaptive capacity to respond to, and recover from those environmental fluctuations is an increasingly important trait to be considered in the daily management operations by the farmer and in future selection programs. The objective of this work was to characterize the responses of meat ewes when facing an abrupt nutritional challenges (i.e., the only feed available being a cereal straw with a very low nutritional value) at a very sensitive physiological stage (i.e., after lambing). Results provide new insights into how a strong nutritional challenges affects some key zootechnical and physiological parameters. The level of synchronization and/or interdependency of biological mechanisms responsible for two different but somehow inter-related traits (i.e., feed efficiency and individual robustness or resilience) is an original aspect addressed in the current study. It helps to understand to what extent the impacts of the challenge and the ewes’ potential recovery are influenced by the individual nature of the animals (i.e., inter-individual differences in the responses).

Read the full article in Translational Animal Science.