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Document Type

Dissertation - University Access Only

Award Date


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Animal Science

First Advisor

Amanda Blair


Fetal or developmental programming evaluates the effects of maternal alterations on the developing fetus and the potential consequences later in life. To understand the effects of mid-gestation energy restriction on beef cows and their calves the objectives of this dissertation were to determine the effects of dietary energy restriction on measurements associated with cow energy status, and the effects on growth performance, the humoral immune response, and subcutaneous adipose tissue gene expression in the resultant beef offspring. Pregnant beef cows were allotted into 2 treatment groups during mid-gestation: 1) fed at maintenance (Positive Energy Status (PES)); or 2) fed just below maintenance (Negative Energy Status (NES)). Cows were evaluated for parameters reflective of cow energy status. Positive energy status cows maintained or gained condition where the NES cows lost condition during the mid-gestation treatment period, indicating the intended treatment was met. Progeny were evaluated for growth performance characteristics from birth through the finishing phase. Birth weight was decreased in NES heifer calves (P<0.05). At weaning heifers from NES cows had a tendency (P<0.10) to be lighter than heifers from PES cows. There was a tendency (P<0.10) for PES cows to wean heavier calves compared to NES cows. These results suggest NES during mid-gestation may affect birth weight and weaning weight. These differences in weight are overcome during the feeding phase. Progeny were vaccinated against a novel antigen to measure the humoral immune response. There was a difference (P<0.05) over time with calves from PES cows having a greater antibody titer to the antigen than calves from NES cows. These results suggest cows in a NES during mid-gestation produce calves with a decreased ability to produce antibodies to a novel antigen and thus a decreased humoral immune response. Progeny were selected to evaluate gene expression related to adipose tissue deposition. No differences in gene expression were detected in the weaning or final subsample (P>0.05). Two genes important in adipose differentiation had a tendency (P<0.10) to be different in the weaning subsample. These results suggest NES during mid-gestation may alter adipose differentiation around weaning, but not later in life.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Beef cattle -- Fetuses -- Growth
Beef cattle -- Fetuses -- Nutrition
Calves -- Growth
Calves -- Immunology
Gene expression


Includes bibliographical references



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University


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