Effects of prepartum supplementary fat and muscle hypertrophy genotype on cold tolerance in newborn calves

Author: Written by Lammoglia, M. A., R. A. Bellows, E. E. Grings and J. W. Bergman

Journal: J Anim Sci 1999 77: 2227-2233.

Abstract: Effects of feeding pregnant dams supplemental dietary fat during the last 55 d of gestation on cold tolerance of newborn crossbred calves with (Piedmontese cross, P, n = 15) or without (Hereford cross, H, n = 16) the muscle hypertrophy allele was determined. Primiparous F1 dams gestating F2 calves of the respective breeds were assigned randomly within breed to receive gestation diets containing either 2.2 (Low Fat; LF) or 5.1% fat (High Fat; HF). Safflower (Carthamus tinctorius L.) seeds containing 37% oil with 79% linoleic acid were the supplemental fat source in diets formulated to be isocaloric-isonitrogenous. At parturition, calves were separated from their dams, fed 38 degrees C pooled dairy cow colostrum (30 mL/kg BW), muzzled to prevent suckling, and returned to their dams in a heated (22 degrees C) room for 3.5 h. At 4 h of age (birth = 0 h), a catheter was inserted into the jugular vein. At 5 h of age, calves were placed in a 0 degrees C room for 140 min, and rectal temperatures and blood samples were obtained at 10- and 20-min intervals. Blood was assayed for cortisol and glucose. Rectal temperature was affected by diet (P<.05), time, diet x time, and breed x time (P<.01 for time and the interactions). Cortisol and glucose concentrations were not affected by diet, breed, or the diet x breed interaction, but they were affected by time, breed x time (both P<.01), and diet x time (P = .06). Calves from HF dams had higher rectal temperatures than calves from LF dams, and the HF calves maintained higher rectal temperatures throughout cold exposure. Cortisol concentrations were lower (P = .06) in calves from HF dams, and these calves had more (P = .06) glucose available for metabolic heat production than calves from LF dams. Piedmontese-cross calves maintained higher (P<.01) rectal temperatures and had higher cortisol and glucose (both P<.01) concentrations than did H-cross calves. We conclude that feeding dams supplemental fat during late gestation increased heat production in newborn calves and potentially could increase calf survival; calves with muscle hypertrophy may have a different ratio of shivering vs nonshivering thermogenesis due to differences in body composition or relationships among uncoupling proteins.