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ARS Home » Plains Area » Clay Center, Nebraska » U.S. Meat Animal Research Center » Nutrition, Growth and Physiology » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #407943

Research Project: Optimizing Nutrient Management and Efficiency of Beef Cattle and Swine

Location: Nutrition, Growth and Physiology

Title: Maternal amino acid supplementation from pre-breeding through early gestation alters fetal muscle development

item HAUXWELL, KATHLYN - North Dakota State University
item Cushman, Robert - Bob
item CATON, JOEL - North Dakota State University
item WARD, ALISON - University Of Saskatchewan
item Lindholm-Perry, Amanda
item Snider, Alexandria - Alex
item FREETLY, HARVEY - Retired ARS Employee
item DAHLEN, CARL - North Dakota State University
item AMAT, SAMAT - North Dakota State University
item Neville, Bryan
item Thorson, Jennifer
item Oliver, William
item Miles, Jeremy
item Crouse, Matthew

Submitted to: State University Ag Report
Publication Type: Other
Publication Acceptance Date: 9/20/2023
Publication Date: 10/21/2023
Citation: Hauxwell, K.M., Cushman, R.A., Caton, J.S., Ward, A.K., Lindholm-Perry, A.K., Snider, A.P., Freetly, H.C., Dahlen, C.R., Amat, S., Neville, B.W., Thorson, J.F., Oliver, W.T., Miles, J.R., Crouse, M.S. 2023. Maternal amino acid supplementation from pre-breeding through early gestation alters fetal muscle development. North Dakota Livestock Research Report. 18-21. Available:

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Increased efficiency is sought after across all sectors of the beef industry. Epigenetic modifiers, which are metabolites that change one-carbon metabolism and alter how DNA is read, may serve to enhance the efficiency of offspring development through maximizing genetic potential. Methionine (MET) is an essential amino acid that plays a key role in creating alterations on the genome as an epigenetic modifier. Guanidinoacetic acid (GAA) consumes products of MET utilization (creating an inverse effect of methionine) and produces creatine, which can be stored in tissues or excreted as waste. We hypothesized that maternal supplementation of MET or GAA during pre-breeding to early gestation will create changes in fetal organ and muscle development. The objectives of this study were to evaluate effects of specific amino acid supplementation from pre-breeding through early gestation on subsequent blood serum amino acid concentrations in the heifer and their effects on fetal muscle development. Eighty MARC II (¼ Angus, ¼ Hereford, ¼ Gelbvieh, ¼ Simmental) heifers (n = 20 per treatment, initial BW = 763 ± 18 pounds) were stratified by age and weight to one of four treatment groups to receive 0.22 pounds per day of supplement: ground corn carrier as control (CON), MET (0.02 lb./d) in ground corn, GAA (0.09 lb./d) in ground corn, and MET + GAA (0.02 lb./d MET + 0.09 lb./d GAA) in ground corn. Supplementation began 63 days before breeding (d –63) and continued until day 63 of gestation (d +63). Serum samples were collected before feeding on d -63, at breeding (d 0), and d +63. Heifers were bred using male sexed semen from the same sire, and 35 heifers were confirmed pregnant and harvested at d +63 of gestation to collect maternal and fetal samples. Data were analyzed as a 2 × 2 factorial design with 2 levels of MET and 2 levels of GAA. Methionine concentrations in maternal blood were greater (P = 0.05) in MET and MET + GAA supplemented heifers at d 0 and d +63 compared with CON and GAA at d -63, d 0, and d +63. There were no differences (P >/+ 0.15) in the concentration of GAA or creatine due to supplementation. Fetuses from MET supplemented heifers had greater (P = 0.01) brain and Longissimus dorsi weight than dams not receiving MET, but no differences in fetal body weight (P = 0.37). We conclude that MET supplementation during pre-breeding through early gestation resulted in increased fetal muscle and brain development.