Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Sheep's Sex Determined By Diet Prior To Pregnancy

Date:
June 9, 2008
Source:
BioMed Central
Summary:
Maternal diet influences the chances of having male or female offspring. New research in Reproductive Biology and Endocrinology has demonstrated that ewes fed a diet enriched with polyunsaturated fats for one month prior to conception have a significantly higher chance of giving birth to male offspring.

Ewes fed a diet enriched with polyunsaturated fats for one month prior to conception have a significantly higher chance of giving birth to male offspring, researchers have found.
Credit: iStockphoto/Willi Schmitz

Maternal diet influences the chances of having male or female offspring. New research has demonstrated that ewes fed a diet enriched with polyunsaturated fats for one month prior to conception have a significantly higher chance of giving birth to male offspring.

Related Articles


This study was carried out by a team of researchers from the Division of Animal Sciences at the University of Missouri and led by R. Michael Roberts. Roberts explains how diet at the time of conception is the most important factor when it comes to influencing the sex of the offspring: "Our study ruled out body condition, ewe weight, previous births, time of breeding, and likely dominance as reasons for the gender skewing. Rather, it was the composition of the diet consumed in the time period around conception that was responsible for this sex-ratio effect."

Polyunsaturated fats are essential nutrients. It is believed that the dietary ratio between omega-3 and omega-6 fats has important biological effects, especially in terms of inflammation, immunity and central nervous system signalling. The omega-6 fats used in this study were protected from digestion by naturally occurring rumen bacteria to ensure that they would be absorbed through the intestines of the sheep.

In animal social groups where a small number of dominant males mate with a large number of females, it has been theorised that having male offspring would be of genetic advantage to a very healthy, well fed female, while females consuming a poorer diet would have greater genetic success by giving birth to female offspring. According to Roberts: "Although this theory is attractive, former observations have often been contradictory, leading some to dismiss its relevance. This is the first experimental study in controlled conditions showing that supplementing maternal diet, in this case by increasing omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acid intake, can skew the sex ratio towards males in a farm species."

These findings will be important to the livestock industry. As Roberts points out, "Increasing the amount of fat in feed during the breeding period could provide a means of controlling the sex ratio of offspring born to a herd or flock."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by BioMed Central. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Mark P Green, Lee D Spate, Tina E Parks, Koji Kimura, Clifton N Murphy, Jim E Williams, Monty S Kerley, Jonathan A Green, Duane H Keisler and R Michael Roberts. Nutritional skewing of conceptus sex in sheep: effects of a maternal diet enriched in rumen-protected polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA). Reproductive Biology and Endocrinology, 6:21; June 9, 2008 DOI: 10.1186/1477-7827-6-21

Cite This Page:

BioMed Central. "Sheep's Sex Determined By Diet Prior To Pregnancy." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 9 June 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/06/080608213756.htm>.
BioMed Central. (2008, June 9). Sheep's Sex Determined By Diet Prior To Pregnancy. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/06/080608213756.htm
BioMed Central. "Sheep's Sex Determined By Diet Prior To Pregnancy." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/06/080608213756.htm (accessed December 21, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Earthworms Provide Cancer-Fighting Bacteria

Earthworms Provide Cancer-Fighting Bacteria

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 21, 2014) Polish scientists isolate bacteria from earthworm intestines which they say may be used in antibiotics and cancer treatments. Suzannah Butcher reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Existing Chemical Compounds Could Revive Failing Antibiotics, Says Danish Scientist

Existing Chemical Compounds Could Revive Failing Antibiotics, Says Danish Scientist

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 21, 2014) A team of scientists led by Danish chemist Jorn Christensen says they have isolated two chemical compounds within an existing antipsychotic medication that could be used to help a range of failing antibiotics work against killer bacterial infections, such as Tuberculosis. Jim Drury went to meet him. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) In Yarumal, a village in N. Colombia, Alzheimer's has ravaged a disproportionately large number of families. A genetic "curse" that may pave the way for research on how to treat the disease that claims a new victim every four seconds. Duration: 02:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Monarch Butterflies Descend Upon Mexican Forest During Annual Migration

Monarch Butterflies Descend Upon Mexican Forest During Annual Migration

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Dec. 19, 2014) Millions of monarch butterflies begin to descend onto Mexico as part of their annual migration south. Rough Cut (no reporter narration) Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins