To examine the effects of maternal metabolizable protein (MP) supplementation during late gestation on serum hormone and metabolites and organ masses, multiparous ewes (n = 45) carrying singletons or twins were allotted randomly (within pregnancy group) to 1 of 3 treatments: 60% (MP60), 80% (MP80), or 100% (MP100) of MP requirements. Blood samples were drawn before the initiation of diets (day 100) and before slaughter (day 130) for chemistry panel analysis and weekly for hormone analysis including progesterone (P4) and estradiol-17β (E2). At day 130, ewe organ masses were recorded. Despite being fed isocaloric diets, MP60 ewes gained less weight throughout pregnancy compared with MP80 and MP100 ewes which were similar. Although diet did not impact E2 or P4 concentrations, ewes carrying twins had greater (P < 0.05) concentrations of both as gestation advanced. Albumin, aspartate aminotransferase, and total protein were reduced (P < 0.05) in MP60 compared with MP100 ewes near term. There was a diet by fetal number interaction (P = 0.03) for lactate dehydrogenase. Twin-carrying MP80 ewes had greater lactate dehydrogenase compared with all other groups on day 130 of gestation. Ewes that were fed MP80 had greater body weight on day 130 of gestation compared with MP60 ewes. Kidney and heart weights were lighter in MP60 ewes compared with MP80 ewes. There was a maternal diet by fetal number interaction (P = 0.05) on fetal weight per unit empty ewe body weight. In ewes carrying singletons, MP60 ewes supported less fetal weight compared with MP100. In contrast, MP60 ewes supported more fetal mass compared with MP100 ewes when carrying twins. The level of protein, and not just total energy, in the diet appears to impact some aspects of the maternal system. Moreover, it appears some measurements of mobilizing maternal body resources are enhanced in ewes carrying twins.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This project was supported by National Research Initiative Competitive grant no. 2009-35206-05276 from the USDA Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service .
© 2015 Elsevier Inc.
- Metabolizable protein