Heat stress-induced deficits in growth, metabolic efficiency, and cardiovascular function coincided with chronic systemic inflammation and hypercatecholaminemia in ractopamine-supplemented feedlot lambs

Rebecca M. Swanson, Richard G. Tait, Beth M. Galles, Erin M. Duffy, Ty B. Schmidt, Jessica L. Petersen, Dustin T. Yates

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Heat stress hinders growth and well-being in livestock, an effect that is perhaps exacerbated by the β1 agonist ractopamine. Heat stress deficits are mediated in part by reduced feed intake, but other mechanisms involved are less understood. Our objective was to determine the direct impact of heat stress on growth and well-being in ractopamine-supplemented feedlot lambs. Commercial wethers were fed under heat stress (40 °C) for 30 d, and controls (18 °C) were pair-fed. In a 2 × 2 factorial, lambs were also given a daily gavage of 0 or 60 mg ractopamine. Growth, metabolic, cardiovascular, and stress indicators were assessed throughout the study. At necropsy, 9th to 12th rib sections (four-rib), internal organs, and feet were assessed, and sartorius muscles were collected for ex vivo glucose metabolic studies. Heat stress increased (P < 0.05) rectal temperatures and respiration rates throughout the study and reduced (P < 0.05) weight gain and feed efficiency over the first week, ultrasonic loin-eye area and loin depth near the end of the study, and four-rib weight at necropsy. Fat content of the four-rib and loin were also reduced (P < 0.05) by heat stress. Ractopamine increased (P < 0.05) loin weight and fat content and partially moderated the impact of heat stress on rectal temperature and four-rib weight. Heat stress reduced (P < 0.05) spleen weight, increased (P < 0.05) adrenal and lung weights, and was associated with hoof wall overgrowth but not organ lesions. Ractopamine did not affect any measured indicators of well-being. Heat stress reduced (P < 0.05) blood urea nitrogen and increased (P < 0.05) circulating monocytes, granulocytes, and total white blood cells as well as epinephrine, TNFα, cholesterol, and triglycerides. Cortisol and insulin were not affected. Heat stress reduced (P < 0.05) blood pressure and heart rates in all lambs and increased (P < 0.05) left ventricular wall thickness in unsupplemented but not ractopamine-supplemented lambs. No cardiac arrhythmias were observed. Muscle glucose uptake did not differ among groups, but insulin-stimulated glucose oxidation was reduced (P < 0.05) in muscle from heat-stressed lambs. These findings demonstrate that heat stress impairs growth, metabolism, and well-being even when the impact of feed intake is eliminated by pair-feeding and that systemic inflammation and hypercatecholaminemia likely contribute to these deficits. Moreover, ractopamine improved muscle growth indicators without worsening the effects of heat stress.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberskaa168
JournalJournal of animal science
Volume98
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 31 2019

Keywords

  • animal well-being
  • beta agonist
  • blood pressure
  • glucose metabolism
  • growth efficiency
  • muscle growth

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Genetics

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