An insulin tolerance test was conducted on twin-born ewes born to dams offered sward heights of either 2 or 6 cm between day 64 and 132 of pregnancy in order to identify any alterations in the lamb’s metabolism. Lambs were also categorised into groups according to birth weight (< 4.0 kg, light and > 4.0 kg, heavy). Changes in metabolism may have long term effects on growth and productivity. An insulin challenge (0.2 U/kg) was administered to ewe lambs at 8 months of age and their plasma insulin, glucose and cortisol responses were monitored. The plasma cortisol concentration of ewe lambs born to ewes offered 2cm sward height was significantly (P < 0.05) higher than ewe lambs born to ewes offered 6 cm sward height 50 minutes after the insulin challenge. No difference was found in the insulin or glucose response to the insulin challenge between dam sward height group (2 vs 6 cm). Birth weight had no effect on the insulin, glucose or cortisol response of the ewe lambs to the insulin challenge. These results show that both dam nutrition and lamb birth weight had little to no effect on the metabolic responses measured. These results suggest that lambs born to ewes offered a herbage sward height of only 2 cm or lambs with low birth weights may not show altered metabolism. KEYWORDS: lamb; insulin tolerance test; twins; ewe nutrition; metabolism.

RA, Corner, PR Kenyon, KJ Stafford, DM West, MH Oliver, ST Morris, and HT Blair

Proceedings of the New Zealand Society of Animal Production, Volume 65, Christchurch, 163-167, 2005
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