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The effect of photoperiod on plasma hormone concentrations in wether lambs with genetic differences in body composition

  • S. M. Francis (a1), B. A. Veenvliet (a1), S. K. Stuart (a1), R. P. Littlejohn (a1) and J. M. Suttie (a1)...


The aim of this study was to determine whether the decrease in plasma growth hormone (GH) levels during a lamb's first autumn is a function of photoperiodic or developmental changes. Wether lambs (no. = 30) from Coopworth sheep selected for low (lean) or high (fat) backfat plus a randomly selected line (control) were subjected to long (16 h light: 8 h dark) or short (8 h light: 16 h dark) photoperiod over a 5-month period after the summer solstice. The animals were regularly blood sampled to determine plasma hormone concentrations. Daily food intake and weekly live weights were measured and the animals were slaughtered at the end of the trial to determine body composition.

Food intake and growth rate were greater for sheep on long than on short photoperiod but photoperiod had no major effect on carcass composition. Mean and basal plasma GH, as well as the number and amplitude of pulses, were not affected by photoperiod, however GH secretion decreased from January to May. Plasma levels ofprolactin, insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1), insulin and glucose were greater in animals under long than short photoperiod, while non-esterified fatty acids (NEFA) were unaffected by photoperiod.

Lean animals had greater mean and basal plasma GH and increased number and amplitude of pulses compared with fat animals. Prolactin concentrations were also greater in the lean than in the fat sheep, while there were no differences in insulin, glucose and NEFA levels. IGF-1 levels were higher in lean than in fat sheep under long photoperiod but lower under short photoperiod.

These results suggest that the decline in plasma GH with increasing age is not affected by photoperiod. While long photoperiod stimulates plasma prolactin and IGF-1 levels as well as intake and growth, the relationship between these parameters is unknown. Hormonal differences between lean and fat genotype sheep are found within the GH axis and prolactin but not within the gonadotropin or insulin axes.



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The effect of photoperiod on plasma hormone concentrations in wether lambs with genetic differences in body composition

  • S. M. Francis (a1), B. A. Veenvliet (a1), S. K. Stuart (a1), R. P. Littlejohn (a1) and J. M. Suttie (a1)...


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