pan SRUC seminar by Dr Kenny Rutherford, SRUC on 5th of September 2013.

A large amount of research has been conducted showing how the prenatal environment experienced by individuals can have a substantial impact on their biology in later life. Human and rodent studies have shown that postnatal and adult physical and mental health can be altered by maternal experiences during pregnancy. In recent decades related work has been conducted in farm animal species, showing that various aspects of maternal nutrition, health, and stress exposure can affect progeny phenotype. However, little effort has been made to assess the actual relevance of this research under farm conditions.

In recent and on-going research projects we have been assessing the risk that alternative management practices (for cattle, sheep and pigs) during pregnancy could have for progeny outcomes, under normal UK conditions. This work has aimed to address the question: do prenatal factors really matter for farm animals in the real world?

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