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In the present study, following the measurement of methane emissions from 160 mature ewes three times, a subset of twenty ewes was selected for further emission and physiological studies. Ewes were selected on the basis of methane yield (MY; g CH4/kg DM intake) being low (Low MY: >1 sd below the mean; n 10) or high (High MY: >1 sd above the mean; n 10) when fed a blended chaff ration at a fixed feeding level (1·2-fold maintenance energy requirements). The difference between the Low- and High-MY groups observed at the time of selection was maintained (P= 0·001) when remeasured 1–7 months later during digesta kinetics studies. Low MY was associated with a shorter mean retention time of particulate (P< 0·01) and liquid (P< 0·001) digesta, less amounts of rumen particulate contents (P< 0·01) and a smaller rumen volume (P< 0·05), but not apparent DM digestibility (P= 0·27) or urinary allantoin excretion (P= 0·89). Computer tomography scanning of the sheep's rumens after an overnight fast revealed a trend towards the Low-MY sheep having more clearly demarcated rumen gas and liquid phases (P= 0·10). These findings indicate that the selection of ruminants for low MY may have important consequences for an animal's nutritional physiology.
Genetic resistance to gastrointestinal worms is a complex trait of great importance in both livestock and humans. In order to gain insights into the genetic architecture of this trait, a mixed breed population of sheep was artificially infected with Trichostrongylus colubriformis (n=3326) and then Haemonchus contortus (n=2669) to measure faecal worm egg count (WEC). The population was genotyped with the Illumina OvineSNP50 BeadChip and 48 640 single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) markers passed the quality controls. An independent population of 316 sires of mixed breeds with accurate estimated breeding values for WEC were genotyped for the same SNP to assess the results obtained from the first population. We used principal components from the genomic relationship matrix among genotyped individuals to account for population stratification, and a novel approach to directly account for the sampling error associated with each SNP marker regression. The largest marker effects were estimated to explain an average of 0·48% (T. colubriformis) or 0·08% (H. contortus) of the phenotypic variance in WEC. These effects are small but consistent with results from other complex traits. We also demonstrated that methods which use all markers simultaneously can successfully predict genetic merit for resistance to worms, despite the small effects of individual markers. Correlations of genomic predictions with breeding values of the industry sires reached a maximum of 0·32. We estimate that effective across-breed predictions of genetic merit with multi-breed populations will require an average marker spacing of approximately 10 kbp.
Lactating goats were given a close arterial infusion of [1-14C]leucine and [4,5-3H]4-methyl-2-oxopentanoic acid into one half of the mammary gland at 2–3 weeks and 34–39 weeks after kidding. Rates of protein synthesis, degradation and net output were determined from measurements of arteriovenous difference and blood flow using a model of leucine metabolism previously developed for muscle (Oddy & Lindsay, 1986). Protein leucine output in milk (Y μmol/min) correlated well with the difference between synthesis and degradation (X μmol/min) derived from the model:
There was substantial synthesis and degradation of protein within the mammary gland. Although only an approximate value could be obtained for the partitioning of protein synthesis and degradation between tissue and milk proteins, there was evidence of appreciable turnover of both. There was no significant difference between mammary leucine and protein metabolism in early and late lactation other than that imparted by a greater mass of mammary tissue in early lactation, although there was a tendency for greater oxidation of leucine in late lactation.
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