Different procedures for measuring cold resistance and metabolic rate of newborn lambs were evaluated by varying the extent of induced hypothermia, the rate of cooling and the method of rewarming. Relatively fast cooling followed by a simple self-rewarming procedure proved harmless and satisfactory.
The effect of age, from birth up to 2 weeks, on thermoregulation was studied. There was no difference in cold resistance between 0·5 h and 30 h after birth, and between 1 day and 2 weeks after birth, despite a large increase in insulation, body weight and coat depth over this period. Weight-specific resting metabolic rate and cold-induced peak metabolic rate similarly did not change significantly in the first 30 h, although resting metabolic rate tended to be lower at birth than at 30 h of age. Peak metabolic rate decreased significantly between 1 day and 2 weeks of age.
The effect of fasting, for 3 to 4 h after birth, on thermoregulation was also studied. Cold resistance and peak metabolic rate were not significantly affected by fasting. Recovery from hypothermia was slightly slower in fasted lambs.
These results may reflect the newborn lamb's initial reliance on heat production derived from brown fat and non-shivering thermogenesis. Older lambs, which benefit from better insulation, rely more upon shivering. Fasted lambs showed a tendency to rely more on insulation and slightly less on heat production than suckled lambs.