Date of Completion

Spring 5-1-2021

Thesis Advisor(s)

Sarah A. Reed

Honors Major

Animal Science


Agriculture | Animal Sciences | Life Sciences | Sheep and Goat Science


Maternal over- and under-nutrition have negative effects on the growth and development of offspring. Colostrum and milk are critical to neonatal development, and composition and quality of colostrum and milk may be influenced by maternal factors, including diet. In this study, 46 pregnant ewes received one of three diets, 60% (RES), 100% (CON), or 140% (OVER) of National Research Council (NRC) nutrition requirements for total digestible nutrients from d 30 of gestation until parturition. Colostrum samples were collected within 24 hours of parturition. Milk samples were collected on d 3 and d 21 postpartum. Total solid concentrations of samples were measured utilizing Brix refractometry. Total solids decreased 7.9% at d 3 and 8.6% at d 21 compared with d 0 (d 0: 1.15 ± 0.013, d 3: 1.06 ± 0.002, d 21: 1.05 ± 0.001; P < 0.0001). There were no detectable effects of maternal diet or interaction of maternal diet and time point on total solids (P > 0.35). Colostral IgG concentrations were significantly impacted by treatment group (RES: 98.99 g/L ± 15.76 g/L, CON: 154.05 g/L ± 21.08 g/L, OVER: 173.14 g/L ± 12.30 g/L; P < 0.0001). Further analyses of milk components and lamb serum to evaluate the success of passive transfer in offspring from ewes fed a poor diet during gestation are warranted.