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Variation in physiological profiles may explain breed differences in neonatal lamb thermoregulation
- Plush, K. J., Hebart, M. L., Brien, F. D., Hynd, P. I.
- Animal production science 2016 v.56 no.4 pp. 746-756
- Border Leicester, Merino, birth weight, breed differences, cold, cold stress, glucose, heat production, lambs, metabolism, purebreds, temperature, thermoregulation
- Ability to adapt rapidly from the uterine environment to self-thermoregulation following birth is a vital requirement for neonatal lamb survival. This investigation reports factors that could explain differences in thermoregulation among breeds that differ in lamb survival. Breeds such as the Merino and Border Leicester have previously been shown to be divergent for birthweight, cold resistance and lamb survival. Cross-bred (Poll Dorset Border Leicester (PDBL, n = 9) and Poll Dorset Merino (PDM, n = 25)) and pure-bred (Border Leicester (BL, n = 35) and Merino (M, n = 46)) lambs were recorded for the thermogenic measures rectal temperature at birth, cold resistance (time for rectal temperature to fall to 35°C while in a cooled water bath) and cold recovery (time to restore rectal temperature after cold exposure) at 1 day of age. In pure-bred lambs, 1 kg increase in weight resulted in a 0.25°C increase in rectal temperature at birth (P < 0.001) and 4.2 min increase in cold resistance (P < 0.001). In contrast, cross-bred lambs did not exhibit any relationship between birthweight and rectal temperature at birth, although they displayed a 3.2 min greater cold resistance for every 1 kg increase in birthweight (P < 0.001). BL-derived lambs were more cold resistant than M lambs (cross-bred: PDBL, 67.1 ± 2.5 min; PDM, 56.4 ± 1.6 min; P < 0.01; and pure-bred: BL, 58.1 ± 1.5 min; M, 53.2 ± 1.3 min; P < 0.01). The quadratic relationship of glucose concentration over time during cold exposure differed with lamb breed. PDBL exhibited higher peak glucose concentrations than did PDM (11.0 mmol/L and 8.9 mmol/L, respectively; P < 0.01). BL took longer to reach peak glucose concentration (50 min) than did M (40 min) and this peak value was higher (BL, 9.4 mmol/L; M, 7.7 mmol/L; P < 0.001). In conclusion, variations in birthweight and glucose metabolism are associated with breed differences in thermogenesis of neonatal lambs.