Maternal protein supplementation during mid-gestation improves offspring performance and metabolism in beef cows

Karolina B Nascimento, Matheus C Galvão, Javier A M Meneses, German D Ramírez-Zamudio, Douglas G Pereira, Pedro V R Paulino, Daniel R Casagrande, Tathyane R S Gionbelli, Marcio M Ladeira, Marcio S Duarte, Juan J Loor, Mateus P Gionbelli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study examined the impact of maternal protein supplementation during mid-gestation on offspring, considering potential sex-related effects. Forty-three pregnant purebred Tabapuã beef cows (20 female and 23 male fetuses) were collectively managed in a pasture until 100 d of gestation. From 100 to 200 d of gestation, they were randomly assigned to the restricted group [(RES) - basal diet (75% corn silage + 25% sugar cane bagasse + mineral mixture); n = 24] or control group [(CON) – same basal diet + based-plant supplement [40% of crude protein, 3.5 g/kg of body weight (BW); n = 19]. From 200 d of gestation until parturition, all cows were equally fed corn silage and mineral mixture. During the cow–calf phase, cows and their calves were maintained in a pasture area. After weaning, calves were individually housed and evaluated during the backgrounding (255 to 320 d), growing 1 (321 to 381 d), and growing 2 (382 to 445 d) phases. Offspring’s blood samples were collected at 210 and 445 d of age. Samples of skeletal muscle tissue were collected through biopsies at 7, 30, and 445 d of age. Muscle tissue samples were subjected to reverse-transcription quantitative polymerase chain reaction analysis. Prenatal treatment and offspring’s sex (when pertinent) were considered fixed effects. The significance level was set at 5%. At mid-gestation, cows supplemented with protein reached 98% and 92% of their protein and energy requirements, while nonsupplemented cows attained only 30% and 50% of these requirements, respectively. The RES offspring were lighter at birth (27 vs. 31 kg), weaning (197 vs. 214 kg), and 445 d of age (398 vs. 429 kg) (P ≤ 0.05). The CON calves had greater (P < 0.05) morphometric measurements overall. The CON offspring had ~26% greater muscle fiber area (P ≤ 0.01). There was a trend (P = 0.06) for a greater Mechanistic target of rapamycin kinase mRNA expression in the Longissimus thoracis in the CON group at 7 d of age. The Myogenic differentiation 1 expression was greater (P = 0.02) in RES-females. Upregulation of Carnitine palmitoyltransferase 2 was observed in RES offspring at 445 d (P = 0.04). Expression of Fatty acid binding protein 4 (P < 0.001), Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma (P < 0.001), and Stearoyl-Coenzyme A desaturase (P < 0.001) was upregulated in CON-females. Therefore, protein supplementation during gestation enhances offspring growth and promotes favorable responses to lipogenesis, particularly in females.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberskae058
JournalJournal of animal science
Early online dateMar 4 2024
StatePublished - 2024


  • fetal programming
  • gene expression
  • lipogenesis
  • morphometric measurements
  • sexual dimorphism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Genetics
  • Animal Science and Zoology


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