The effects of late gestation nutrient restriction of dams on beef heifer intake, metabolites and hormones during an ad libitum feeding trial
The main site of appetite regulation is in the arcuate nucleus found in the hypothalamus (Luquet, Perez, Hnaska, & Palmiter, 2005). Specific alterations in foetal metabolic/energy environment directly influence the development of appetite regulatory pathways and can lead to altered consumption patterns throughout the entire lifespan (Ross & Desai, 2014). Yura et al. (2005) suggest that a postnatal surge in leptin can programme the appetite centre in the hypothalamus. Manipulation of maternal diet leads to alteration of the postnatal leptin surge of offspring immediately after birth and results in increased appetite in rodents (Yura et al., 2005) and lambs (Long, Ford, & Nathanielsz, 2011). Beef cattle have a different leptin profile than most species, characterized by an increase in plasma leptin for the first 2 days of life followed by a plateau rather than an immediate postnatal surge (Long & Schafer, 2013). The long‐term effects of late gestation maternal nutrient restriction on heifer offspring appetite and endocrine regulation are unknown. We hypothesized that maternal nutrient restriction during late gestation would affect feed intake of heifers as well as endocrine regulation.