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Neonatal lamb vigour is improved by feeding docosahexaenoic acid in the form of algal biomass during late gestation

Lookup NU author(s): Ruth Pickard, Dr Andrew Beard, Emeritus Professor Chris SealORCiD, Emerita Professor Sandra Edwards



To determine whether feeding a sustainable, algal source of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) to sheep during late pregnancy would improve neonatal lamb vigour, 48 English mule ewes, of known conception date, were divided into four treatment groups. For the last 9 weeks of gestation, ewes received one of two dietary supplements: either a DHA-rich algal biomass providing 12 g DhA/ewe per day, or a control supplement based on vegetable oil. The four dietary treatment groups (h = 12) were: control supplement for the duration of the trial (C), DHA supplement from 9 to 6 weeks before parturition (3 week), DHA supplement from 9 to 3 weeks before parturition (6 week) and DHA supplement for the duration of the trial (9 week). Dietary supplements were fed alonaside grass silage and commercial concentrate. There was a tendency for gestation length to be extended with increased duration of DHA supplementation (P = 0.08). After parturition, the concentrations of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and DHA in ewe and lamb plasma and colostrum were elevated in line with increased periods of DHA supplementation. Lambs from the 6-week and 9-week groups stood significantly sooner after birth than lambs from the C group (P

Publication metadata

Author(s): Pickard RM, Beard AR, Seal CJ, Edwards SA

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Animal

Year: 2008

Volume: 2

Issue: 8

Pages: 1186-1192

Date deposited: 21/01/2011

ISSN (print): 1751-7311

ISSN (electronic): 1751-732X

Publisher: Cambridge University Press


DOI: 10.1017/S1751731108001997


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