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Effect of a low zinc diet on the ewe during pregnancy and lactation

, : Effect of a low zinc diet on the ewe during pregnancy and lactation. Journal of Animal Science 48(5): 1234-1238

Ewes (19) were fed a low Zn (< 1 ppm) diet with a hay supplement starting wk 12 of pregnancy and continuing through wk 6 of lactation. The ewes (9) were given 100 ppm Zn in the drinking water starting wk 17. Unsupplemented (2) and 1 supplemented ewe died before or during lambing. More unsupplemented ewes (2) died 3 and 4 wk after lambing. Birth weight of the lambs was not affected by Zn treatment. Lambs were maintained with the ewes for 6-7 wk following parturition and ewes continued to be fed the diet with and without Zn. Unsupplemented ewes lost weight continuously during lactation and developed frothy saliva and skin lesions during wk 3 and 4 of lactation. A supplemented ewe (1) developed skin lesions. Since unsupplemented ewes produced more twins than supplemented ewes, it is difficult to separate the effect of twinning and the effects of Zn deficiency. The rapid deterioration in the ewes' condition after lambing suggests that their Zn stores were depleted at the end of pregnancy and that marginal Zn status may have contributed to the observed mortality. The lactating ewe is clearly susceptible to Zn deficiency, but whether Zn is necessary for normal parturition in the ewe as it is in the rat requires further study.


PMID: 536331

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