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The objective of this experiment was to determine the effects of maternal nutrition on the expression of genes in fetal tissues. Genes of interest were selected because each has been demonstrated previously to influence body composition. Twenty‐two Angus‐cross bred heifers (BW = 1161 ± 19 lbs) randomly were assigned to three dietary treatments. Maternal dietary treatments were formulated and intake was controlled to provide 150% (HIGH), 100% (INT), and 80% (LOW) of maintenance energy requirements for growing pregnant Angus heifers (NRC, 2000). Heifers were on dietary treatment from d 85 to d 180 of gestation, at which point fetuses were removed via cesarean section and muscle, subcutaneous fat, and liver samples were collected. At trial initiation dam BW was similar between treatment groups. Dam BW differed (P = 0.002) at the end of the treatment period as a result of dietary treatment. Final BW was lowest for the LOW dams, intermediate for INT dams, and highest for HIGH dams. Both ribfat thickness and ribeye area were increased in the HIGH treatment group compared with LOW and INT dams (P < 0.05). Thus, dam growth was influenced by diet during treatment period. Dietary treatment did not influence fetal weight, crown rump length, liver weight, or right hind leg weight of the fetus. Relative gene expression for preadipocyte factor‐1 was more highly expressed (P < 0.05) in HIGH heifers as compared with INT and LOW heifers. These preliminary results suggest that fetal growth characteristics are not affected by manipulation of maternal nutrition during mid‐gestation in beef cows. However, gene expression differences could potentially lead to differences in composition of growth, and warrants further investigation.

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