Published online by Cambridge University Press: 09 March 2007
We investigated whether short-term underfeeding could induce adaptative mechanisms in portal-drained viscera (PDV) that would allow nutrients to be spared for vital functions in adult ewes. Six ewes (three of them fitted with catheters in the mesenteric artery and portal and mesenteric veins) were fed, in a double 3×3 Latin square design (2 weeks per experimental period), a regrowth of natural grassland hay at 143 (high; H), 88 (medium; M) and 51 (low; L) % of their energy maintenance requirements. The digestibility of the diet was measured in all six ewes and the net portal fluxes of nutrients in the three catheterized ewes. The organic matter content and N digestibility of the diet were not affected by underfeeding. Urinary and faecal N losses and N balance were linearly related to feed intake. Arterial concentration of acetate was linearly related to feed intake. Arterial concentrations of the other volatile fatty acids, 3-hydroxybutyrate, lactate, glucose, NH3, urea and total amino acids were not affected by underfeeding. Arterial concentration of non-esterified fatty acids (NEFA) increased with underfeeding. The portal net release of all volatile fatty acids, 3-hydroxybutyrate and NH3 were linearly related to intake. The portal net flux of both essential and non-essential amino acids, and thus total amino acids, remained unchanged between levels H and M, and decreased between levels M and L. A significant net uptake for glycine and total non-essential amino acids occurred at level L. The portal net uptake of glucose, urea, glutamate and glutamine, and the portal net release of lactate and NEFA were not affected by underfeeding. Summation of portal energy fluxes indicated that 51 % of the metabolizable energy intake was recovered in the portal blood with the three levels of intake. In conclusion, no quantitative adaptation to spare energy, in terms of percentage of intake, occurred in PDV of short-term underfed ruminants, but the pattern of absorption of energetic nutrients was modified.
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