Skip to main content Accessibility help

The effect of varying levels of mineral and iodine supplementation to ewes during late pregnancy on serum immunoglobulin G concentrations in their progeny

  • T. M. Boland (a1), M. Guinan (a1), P. O. Brophy (a1), J. J. Callan (a1), P. J. Quinn (a1), P. Nowakowski (a2) and T. F. Crosby (a1)...


Three experiments were carried out to evaluate the effects of varying levels of mineral and iodine supplements when offered to ewes in late pregnancy on lamb serum immunoglobulin G (IgG) concentrations. In experiment 1, 44 individually housed ewes were allocated to one of four treatments (no. = 11) and offered a basal diet of grass silage ad libitum which was supplemented with 500 g/day of a concentrate (190 g/kg of crude protein (CP)), in addition to mineral/vitamin fortification at the rate of 0 g (C), 17.3 g (LM), 34.6 g (MM) or 52.0 g (HM) per day for the final 7 weeks of pregnancy. The mineral/vitamin supplement contained Ca, P, Na, Mg, Mn, Se, I, Co, Mn and vitamin E. The ewes were milked at 1 h, 10 h and 18 h post partum and measured quantities of colostrum, proportional to lamb birth weight, were fed back to the lambs via a stomach tube. Treatment had no effect on total colostrum yield or total IgG yield to 18 h post partum (P > 0.05). There was a linear decrease in serum IgG concentration and IgG absorption efficiency as mineral supplementation increased (P < 0.001). In experiment 2, which was carried out in conjunction with experiment 1, 44 ewes were allocated to four treatments (no. = 11) and offered the same basal silage/concentrate diet as in experiment 1, in addition to receiving one of the following supplements : (C) control, as in experiment 1; (HM), as in experiment 1; (−I), ewes offered the same mineral/vitamin supplement as HM but with iodine excluded; (I0), ewes offered a daily mineral supplement of iodine only at a level of 40 mg per ewe, equivalent to the iodine inclusion in the 52 g of minerals offered in HM. The iodine-supplemented progeny (HM and IO) had lower (P < 0.001) serum IgG concentrations and higher soil scores (P < 0.05) than the C and −I progeny. In experiment 3, the effects of varying levels of iodine supplementation when offered to ewes during the final 6 weeks of pregnancy on lamb serum IgG values were examined. Forty-eight individually housed ewes were allocated to one of four treatments (no. = 12) and offered grass silage ad libitum, which was supplemented initially with 500 g of a concentrate (140 g/kg of CP) from days 99 to 130 of gestation and then replaced with 700 g/day of a concentrate (180 g/kg of CP) from day 131 of gestation until lambing. In addition, the diet of each ewe was supplemented on a daily basis with iodine at the rate of 0 mg (C), 8.9 mg (LI), 17.7 mg (MI) or 26.6 mg (HI). There was a negative linear reduction in serum IgG concentration and IgG absorption efficiency as maternal dietary iodine supplementation increased (P < 0.001). We conclude that supplementation of the ewe's diet in late pregnancy with 17.3 g of a mineral supplement as formulated in the current experiment lowers the lamb's ability to absorb colostral IgG, and offering only the iodine component of this mineral supplement, at a level which approximates to about one third of currently quoted toxicity levels, will result in reduced serum IgG concentration in the lamb. These findings suggest the need to re-examine current toxicity values for iodine.


Corresponding author


Hide All
Agricultural and Food Research Council. 1993. Energy and protein requirements of ruminants. CAB International, Wallingford, Oxon.
Agricultural Research Council. 1980. The nutrient requirements of ruminant livestock. Commonwealth Agricultural Bureaux, Farnham Royal.
Boland, T. M., Brophy, P. O., Callan, J. J., Quinn, P. J., Nowakowski, P. and Crosby, T. F. 2004a. The effects of mineralblock components when offered to ewes in late pregnancy on colostrum yield and immunoglobulin G absorption in their lambs. Animal Science 79: 293302.
Boland, T. M., Brophy, P. O., Callan, J. J., Quinn, P. J., Nowakowski, P. and Crosby, T. F. 2004b. The effects of mineral supplementation to ewes in late pregnancy on immunoglobulin G absorption by their lambs. Proceedings of the British Society of Animal Science, 2004, p. 92.
Boland, T. M., Keane, N., Nowakowski, P., Brophy, P. O., Callan, J. J. and Crosby, T. F. 2005. High mineral intake by pregnant ewes lowers colostral immunoglobulin G absorption by the lamb. Journal of Animal Science In press.
Brody, T. 1999. Nutritional biochemistry, second edition. Academic Press, San Diego.
Cabello, G. and Levieux, D. 1982. The absorption and half-life of bovine, caprine and ovine IgG1 in the newborn lamb. Effects of experimental prematurity and endocrine factors. Annales de Recherches Vétérinaires 12: 421429.
Campbell, S. G. 1974. Experimental colostrum deprivation in lambs. British Veterinary Journal 130: 538543.
Church, D. C. 1991. Livestock feeds and feeding, third edition. Prentice Hall, New Jersey.
Crosby, T. F., Boland, T. M., Brophy, P. O., Quinn, P. J., Callan, J. J. and Joyce, D. 2004. The effects of offering mineral blocks to ewes pre-mating and in late pregnancy on block intake, pregnant ewe performance and immunoglobulin status of the progeny. Animal Science 79: 493504.
Doney, J. M., Peart, J. N., Smith, W. F. and Louda, F. 1979. A consideration of the techniques for estimation of milk yield and a comparison of estimates obtained by two methods in relation to effect of breed, level of production and stage of lactation. Journal of Agricultural Science, Cambridge 92: 123132.
Ducker, M. J., Kendall, P. T., Hemingway, R. G. and McClelland, T. H. 1981. An evaluation of feedblocks as a means of providing supplementary nutrients to ewes grazing upland/hill pastures. Animal Production 33: 5158.
Fahey, J. L. and McKelvey, E. M. 1965. Quantitative determination of serum immunoglobulins in antibody agar plates. Journal of Immunology 94: 8490.
Ganong, W. F. 1977. Review of medical physiology, eighth edition. Lang Medical Publications, Los Altos.
Gilbert, R. P., Gaskins, C. T., Hillers, J. K., Parker, C. F. and McGuire, T. C. 1988. Genetic and environmental factors affecting immunoglobulin G1 concentrations in ewe colostrum and lamb serum. Journal of Animal Science 66: 855863.
Guinan, M., Harrison, G., Brophy, P. O., Callan, J. J., Quinn, P. J., Nowakowski, P. and Crosby, T. F. 2004. The effects of mineral supplementation when offered to pregnant ewes for the final 6, 4 or 2 weeks pre-partum on immunoglobulin (IgG) absorption in their offspring. Proceedings of the British Society of Animal Science, 2004, p. 91.
Howell, McC. J. 1983. Toxicity problems associated with trace elements in domestic animals. In Trace elements in animal production and veterinary practice (ed. Suttle, N. F., Gunn, R. G., Allen, W. M., Linklater, K. A. and Wiener, G.) British Society of Animal Production occasional publication no. 7, pp. 107118.
Keane, N. 2001. Some factors influencing early lamb performance and IgG absorption in March born lambs. M. Agr. Sc. thesis, National University of Ireland, Dublin.
Klobosa, F. and Werhahn, E. 1989. Variations in the concentrations of the immunoglobulins IgG1, IgG2 and IgA in sheep. 2. Changes in the blood of lambs of different breeds and crossbreeds during the course of the rearing period. Berliner und Munchener Tierarztliche Wochenschrift 102: 331337 (abstr. ).
Larson, R. E., Ward, A. C. S., Frederiksen, K. R., Ardrey, W. B. and Frank, F. W. 1974. Capability of lambs to absorb immunoproteins from freeze-dried bovine colostrum. American Journal of Veterinary Research 35: 10611063.
McDowell, L. R. 1996. Free choice mineral supplements for grazing sheep in developing countries. In Detection and treatment of mineral nutrition problems in grazing sheep (ed. Masters, D.), pp. 8194. ACIAR, Canberra, Australia.
McDowell, L. R. 2003. Minerals in animal and human nutrition (ed. McDowell, L.). Elsevier, Amsterdam.
McEwan, A. D., Fisher, E. W., Selman, I. E. and Penhale, W. J. 1970. A turbidity test for the estimation of immune globulin levels in neonatal calf serum. Clinica Chimica Acta 27: 155163.
McGuire, T. C., Reigner, J., Kellom, T. and Gates, N. L. 1983. Failure in passive transfer of immunoglobulin G1 to lambs: measurement of immunoglobulin G1 in ewe colostrum. American Journal of Veterinary Research 44: 10641067.
Maher, P. 1995. The effects of forage type on ewe and lamb performance. M. Agr. Sc. thesis, National University of Ireland, Dublin.
Mellor, D. J. and Murray, L. 1986. Making the most of colostrum at lambing. Veterinary Record 118: 351353.
Nathanielsz, P. W., Comline, R. S., Silver, M. and Thomas, A. L. 1973. Thyroid function in the foetal lamb during the last third of gestation. Journal of Endocrinology 58: 535546.
O'Doherty, J. 1994. Alternative methods of forage supplementation and their effects on ewe and lamb performance. Ph. D. thesis, National University of Ireland.
O'Doherty, J. V. and Crosby, T. F. 1997. The effect of diet in late pregnancy on colostrum production and immunoglobulin absorption in sheep. Animal Science 64: 8796.
Parker, R. J. and Nicol, A. M. 1990. The measurement of serum immunoglobulin concentration to estimate lamb colostrum intake. Proceedings of the New Zealand Society of Animal Production 50: 275278.
Pattinson, S. E., Davies, D. A. R. and Winter, A. C. 1995. Changes in the secretion rate and production of colostrum by ewes over the first 24 hours post partum. Animal Science 61: 6368.
Penhale, W. J., Logan, E. F., Selaman, I. E., Fisher, E. W. and McEwan, A. D. 1973. Observations on the absorption of colostral Igs by the neonatal calf and their significance in colibacillosis. Annales de Recherches Vétérinaires 4: 223233.
Praetor, A., Ellinger, I., Fuchs, R. and Hunziker, W. 2000. Transcytosis of immunoglobulin G. Protoplasma 211: 134139.
Sawyer, M., Willadsen, C. H., Osbourne, B. I. and McGuire, T. C. 1977. Passive transfer of colostral immunoglobulins from ewe to lamb and its influence on neonatal lamb mortality. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 171: 12551259.
Shambaugh, G. E. III 1978. Chemistry and actions of thyroid hormone: biologic and cellular effects. In The thyroid: a fundamental and clinical text (ed. Werner, S. C. and Ingbar, S. H.), pp. 115124. Harper and Row, New York.
Smeaton, T. C. and Simpson-Morgan, M. W. 1985. Epithelial cell renewal and antibody transfer in the intestine of the foetal and neonatal lamb. Australian Journal of Experimental Biological and Medical Science 63: 4151.
Stanbury, J. B. 1996. Iodine deficiency and the iodine deficiency disorders. In Present knowledge in nutrition, seventh edition (ed. Ziegler, E. E. and Filer, L. J.), pp. 378383. ILSI press, Washington, DC.
Statistical Analysis Systems Institute. 1985. Statistical analysis systems, version 6. 12. SAS Institute Inc., Cary, NC.
Suttle, N. F. 1983. Meeting the mineral requirements of sheep. In Sheep production (ed. Haresign, W.), pp. 167183. Butterworths, London.
Tessman, R. K., Tyler, J. W., Parish, S. M., Gant, R. G. and Grasseschi, H. A. 1997. Use of age and serum gammaglutamyltransferase activity to assess passive transfer status in lambs. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 211: 11631164.
Treacher, T. T. 1973. Artificial rearing of lambs: a review. Veterinary Record 92: 311315.
Underwood, E. J. and Suttle, N. F. 1999. Iodine. In The mineral nutrition of livestock, third edition, pp. 343374. CABI Publishing, Oxon.
Van de Perre, P. 2003. Transfer of antibodies via mother's milk. Vaccine 21: 33743376.
Yvon, M., Levieux, D., Valluy, M., Pelissier, J. and Mirandi, P. P. 1993. Colostrum protein digestion in newborn lambs. Journal of Nutrition 123: 586596.
Zervas, G., Rissaki, M. and Deligeorgis, S. 2001. Free-choice consumption of mineral lick blocks by fattening lambs fed ad libitum alfalfa hay and concentrates with different trace mineral content. Livestock Production Science 68: 251258.



Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed