Mineral profiling of muscle and hepatic tissues of Australian Merino, Damara and Dorper lambs: Effect of weight loss

David Miguel Ribeiro, Tim Scanlon, Tanya Kilminster, Cátia Falcão Martins, Johan Greeff, John Milton, Chris Oldham, João P.B. Freire, Miguel P. Mourato, André Martinho de Almeida

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)


Seasonal weight loss (SWL) is a major constraint to extensive animal production systems. The Australian sheep production is based on merino sheep, a European breed not tolerant to SWL. Tolerant alternative breeds such as the fat-tailed Damara and the Dorper have been increasingly used in Australia and elsewhere, due to their robustness. The aim of this study was to understand the mineral profile of muscle and liver tissues of Australian Merino, Damara and Dorper, when subjected to SWL in order to understand SWL-tolerance physiology. Twenty-four lambs were divided randomly between growing (control) and nutritionally restricted groups for each breed. The trial lasted 42 days. Animals were weighed bi-weekly and at the end of the trial, lambs were slaughtered. Liver and muscle samples were taken immediately after slaughter. Mineral assessment was carried out using inductively coupled plasma–optical emission spectrometry. Analysis of variance showed mineral concentrations were generally increased in the muscle of restricted animals, mainly because of fat tissue mobilization. An increase in Zn and Fe concentrations indicates an increase of enzymatic activity in the liver of restricted sheep as well as differential abundance of Fe-containing proteins. High concentrations of Cu in the liver of Dorper indicate higher ability to accumulate this element, even under SWL.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)823-830
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Animal Physiology and Animal Nutrition
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2020


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