Effects of vitamin A supplementation in young lambs on performance, serum lipid, and longissimus muscle lipid composition

A. M. Arnett, M. E. Dikeman, C. W. Spaeth, B. J. Johnson, B. Hildabrand

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Forty crossbred wethers (BW = 28.7 kg) were used to evaluate the effects on LM lipid composition of diets containing high and low levels of vitamin A. Four treatments arranged as a 2 x 2 factorial with a completely random design were investigated: backgrounding (BG) and finishing (FN) with no supplemental vitamin A (LL); BG with no supplemental vitamin A and FN with high vitamin A (6,600 IU/kg of diet, as fed) supplementation (LH); BG with high vitamin A supplementation and FN with no vitamin A supplementation (HL); and BG and FN with high vitamin A (HH) supplementation. Diets included cracked corn (62.4%), soybean meal (16.0%), cottonseed hull pellets (14.8%), and supplement (7%), and contained <100 IU of vitamin A/kg (as fed) from carotenes before vitamin A was added. During the BG period (d 1 to 56), feed intake was restricted to achieve 0.22 kg of ADG. During the FN period (d 57 to 112), lambs consumed the same diet ad libitum. Lambs were weighed every 14 d, and blood was sampled every 28 d to evaluate changes in serum fatty acids and vitamin A levels. Lambs were slaughtered after 112 d. Lipid composition was determined for liver and LM. There were no treatment differences (P > 0.05) in feed intake, ADG, or final BW. Carcass weights were not affected by vitamin A treatment (P > 0.20), although backfat thickness tended to be different between HL and LL lambs (0.80 vs. 0.64 cm, respectively; P = 0.08). Carcasses from the HH group had greater (P < 0.05) marbling scores than those from the LL group (514 vs. 459) and had 25.8% more extractable intramuscular lipids (3.88 vs. 3.08% for HH and LL, respectively; P < 0.05); the LH and HL treatments were intermediate. Interestingly, the LL group had the greatest increase in serum fatty acids throughout the experimental period (change of 127 vs. 41 μg/g for LL and HH, respectively; P < 0.01). The degree of saturation of fatty acids was not affected by treatment (P = 0.18) in the serum but was affected in the longissimus thoracis fat. Oleic acid increased and linoleic acid decreased in the longissimus thoracis of HH-treated lambs (P < 0.02). These data suggest that increases in total intramuscular lipids may be achieved with high levels of vitamin A supplementation for 112 d in young lambs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3062-3071
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of animal science
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2007


  • Fatty acid
  • Lamb
  • Lipid
  • Meat quality
  • Vitamin A


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