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Effect of high-concentrate or high-forage diets on heifer, metabolism, and fetal development

Grant number: 23/12386-2
Support Opportunities:Scholarships abroad - Research Internship - Doctorate
Effective date (Start): January 10, 2024
Effective date (End): January 09, 2025
Field of knowledge:Agronomical Sciences - Animal Husbandry - Animal Nutrition and Feeding
Principal Investigator:Rodrigo Silva Goulart
Grantee:Matheus Sousa de Paula Carlis
Supervisor: Carl Robertson Dahlen
Host Institution: Faculdade de Zootecnia e Engenharia de Alimentos (FZEA). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). Pirassununga , SP, Brazil
Research place: North Dakota State University (NDSU), United States  
Associated to the scholarship:22/10479-0 - Early preceding weaning and its effect on fetal programming of calves on performance, metabolic profile, carcass composition and meat quality of Nellore cattle., BP.DR


The concept of fetal programming, initially proposed by Dr. David Barker, highlights the impact of prenatal conditions on subsequent health and productivity of offspring. This concept has been established through human studies and later extended to ruminant animals, affecting growth and productivity. Nutritional status during pregnancy can influence tissue development and metabolism in the progeny through epigenetic mechanisms. In Brazil, beef cattle herds are managed in extensive pasture systems in which there is usually only mineral supplementation. While in North Dakota supplementation is necessary due to the shortage of forage, which in turn can vary in its energy content, especially during the winter. The proposed research aims to investigate the effects of different diets (high concentrate and high forage) on the maternal-fetal development of cross-bred beef heifers during gestation. Specific objectives include evaluating serum glucose, urea, non-esterified fatty acids, IGF-1 levels, maternal tissue mobilization, fetal and maternal organ weights, ruminal and cecal fermentation, and gastrointestinal tract development. A total of 110 Cross-bred beef heifers will be individually fed either a high forage or high concentrate diet. Blood samples will be collected at key time points, and maternal and fetal tissues will be analyzed post-mortem. Morphological structures of the ruminal and intestinal epithelium will also be evaluated. In conclusion, this project aims to enhance our understanding of how different diets during gestation influence maternal-fetal development and long-term effects on progeny. By studying these effects, valuable insights can be gained into optimizing nutritional strategies for beef cattle production, improving reproductive efficiency, and progeny performance. (AU)

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