Department of Animal Science


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B. Menezes, A.C.; McCarthy, K.L.; Kassetas, C.J.; Baumgaertner, F.; Kirsch, J.D.; Dorsam, S.T.; Neville, T.L.;Ward, A.K.; Borowicz, P.P.; Reynolds, L.P.; et al. Vitamin and Mineral Supplementation and Rate of Gain in Beef Heifers I: Effects on Dam Hormonal and Metabolic Status, Fetal Tissue and Organ Mass, and Concentration of Glucose and Fructose in Fetal Fluids at d 83 of Gestation. Animals 2022, 12, 1757.


Copyright: © 2022 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license


Thirty-five crossbred Angus heifers (initial BW = 359.5 ± 7.1 kg) were randomly assigned to a 2 × 2 factorial design to evaluate effects of vitamin and mineral supplementation [VMSUP; supplemented (VTM) vs. unsupplemented (NoVTM)] and different rates of gain [GAIN; low gain (LG), 0.28 kg/d, vs. moderate gain (MG), 0.79 kg/d] during the first 83 d of gestation on dam hormone and metabolic status, fetal tissue and organ mass, and concentration of glucose and fructose in fetal fluids. The VMSUP was initiated 71 to 148 d before artificial insemination (AI), allowing time for mineral status of heifers to be altered in advance of breeding. At AI heifers were assigned their GAIN treatment. Heifers received treatments until the time of ovariohysterectomy (d 83 ± 0.27 after AI). Throughout the experiment, serum samples were collected and analyzed for non-esterified fatty acids (NEFA), progesterone (P4), insulin, and insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1). At ovariohysterectomy, gravid reproductive tracts were collected, measurements were taken, samples of allantoic (ALF) and amniotic (AMF) fluids were collected, and fetuses were dissected. By design, MG had greater ADG compared to LG (0.85 vs. 0.34 ± 0.04 kg/d, respectively; p < 0.01). Concentrations of NEFA were greater for LG than MG (p = 0.04) and were affected by a VMSUP × day interaction (p < 0.01), with greater concentrations for NoVTM on d 83. Insulin was greater for NoVTM than VTM (p = 0.01). A GAIN × day interaction (p < 0.01) was observed for IGF-1, with greater concentrations for MG on d 83. At d 83, P4 concentrations were greater for MG than LG (GAIN × day, p < 0.01), and MG had greater (p < 0.01) corpus luteum weights versus LG. Even though fetal BW was not affected (p ≥ 0.27), MG fetuses had heavier (p = 0.01) femurs than LG, and VTM fetuses had heavier (p = 0.05) livers than those from NoVTM. Additionally, fetal liver as a percentage of BW was greater in fetuses from VTM (P = 0.05; 3.96 ± 0.06% BW) than NoVTM (3.79 ± 0.06% BW), and from LG (p = 0.04; 3.96 ± 0.06% BW) than MG (3.78 ± 0.06% BW). A VMSUP × GAIN interaction was observed for fetal small intestinal weight (p = 0.03), with VTM-MG being heavier than VTM-LG. Therefore, replacement heifer nutrition during early gestation can alter the development of organs that are relevant for future offspring performance. These data imply that compensatory mechanisms are in place in the developing conceptus that can alter the growth rate of key metabolic organs possibly in an attempt to increase or decrease energy utilization.