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Using computed tomography (CT) to quantify bone properties in Scottish Blackface ewes

  • J. Conington (a1), S. Watts (a1), K. McLean (a1), N. Lambe (a1) and L. Bünger (a1)...

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Good bone quality in breeding ewes is important for the mineralisation of foetal skeletons and to sustain maternal dentition, as tooth loss is the main reason for culling sheep in the UK. Among other functions, bone is a storage depot for calcium and other key minerals that are mobilised to meet major demands such as during lactation. As other studies in humans and poultry have shown, there is substantial genetic variation (h2 between 0.5 and 0.8) for bone properties, suggesting a similar situation in ewes. These properties, e.g. bone density, are key to successful production and nurturing of healthy lambs, which can be used in selective breeding strategies to extend breeding ewes’ productive lives. CT has been shown to be a useful method of assessing bone properties in sheep (Rubin et al., 2001). This study quantifies the main bone types in Scottish Blackface ewes and investigates environmental factors affecting bone quality.

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Rubin, C., Turner, A. S., Bain, S., Mallinckrodt, C., McLeod, K. (2001) Anabolism: Low mechanical signals strengthen bones. Nature 412: 603604
Lambe, N. R., Young, M. J., Brotherstone, S., Kvame, T., Conington, J, Kolstad, K. and Simm, G. (2003) Body tissue changes in Scottish Blackface ewes during one annual production cycle. Animal Science 76: 211219.

Using computed tomography (CT) to quantify bone properties in Scottish Blackface ewes

  • J. Conington (a1), S. Watts (a1), K. McLean (a1), N. Lambe (a1) and L. Bünger (a1)...

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