Effects of Supplementing Holstein Heifers with Dietary Melatonin during Late Gestation on Growth and Cardiovascular Measurements of their Offspring


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Abstract

ContentsThe objective was to examine the effects of supplementing dams with dietary melatonin during late gestation on offspring growth and cardiovascular measurements. On day 190 of gestation, heifers (n = 20) were blocked by body weight and randomly assigned to one of two dietary treatments consisting of 20 mg of dietary melatonin per day [melatonin (MEL)] or no melatonin supplementation [control (CON)]. Dietary treatments were terminated on day 262 of gestation. At birth, calves were separated from their dams with no further treatments. Calf (n = 18) blood pressure, cortisol, nitrites and total antioxidant capacity were collected on weeks 0, 1, 2, 3 and 4 of age. Calf hepatic portal blood flow and concentrations of insulin-like growth factor 1 were determined on weeks 0 and 4 of age. Calf body weight, abdominal girth, hip height and wither height increased (p < 0.05) with age. An age by treatment interaction (p < 0.01) was observed for calf body weight, which was increased at weeks 8 and 9 of age in calves born to MEL heifers compared to calves born to CON heifers. Pulse pressure, mean arterial pressure, absolute hepatic portal blood flow and blood flow relative to calf body weight were not different (p > 0.05) between treatments. A main effect of calf age (p < 0.05) was observed for concentrations of insulin-like growth factor 1, which was decreased at week 4 compared to week 0. An age by treatment interaction (p < 0.05) was observed for cortisol, which was decreased at week 2 in calves from MEL-treated dams compared to calves from CON-treated dams. Early post-natal growth was altered in offspring born to dams supplemented with dietary melatonin. This could lead to further foetal programming implications in conjunction with post-natal development.

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