Twenty twin-bearing Shropshire ewes were either maintained on an adequate (H) or 60% restricted feeding level (L) during the last 6 weeks of gestation. The ewes were sired by a ram selected for either high daily growth (Growth, G) or increased cross-sectional area of m. Longissimus dorsi (LD) combined with minimal fat thickness above LD (Meat, M). The male offspring (n=23) from these ewes were studied with regard to production, fibre type, bone parameters and meat quality traits. Maternal nutrient restriction during late gestation caused a reduced birth weight of the offspring, a low growth rate from birth to weaning, yet compensatory growth after weaning. No relation was found between maternal nutrient restriction during late gestation and meat quality in terms of proteolytic potential, myofibrillar fragmentation index or shear force measured in meat from 5 month old lambs. The data do not support the hypothesis of a long-term programming effect of maternal nutrient restriction during late gestation on meat ternderness. However, a long-term effect of maternal nutrient restirction was found for bone trowth. Femur weight was significantly reduced in L-lambs and cortical bone density and mean relative wall thickness were significantly increased by maternal nutrient restriction during late gestation, suggesting that only some of the bone parameters evaluated express compensatory growth. The effects of maternal nutrition in late gestation on bone parameters have implications for the robustness of breeding stock.
Livestock Science, 2007, Vol 110, Issue 3, p. 230-241