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News Article

Sheep with higher vitamin D levels produce heavier lambs

Link between vitamin D levels and health outcomes in Scottish hill sheep examined

Sheep with higher vitamin D levels gave birth to heavier lambs the following year, a recent study has found. Similar observations have been reported in humans where a positive association between maternal vitamin D status and child birth weight has often been noted.

The study also found that vitamin D3 concentrations were higher in sheep with lighter faces than those with darker wool, but levels of vitamin D2 did not vary between the breeds.

This is consistent with the group’s earlier studies in Soay sheep and demonstrates how coat colour can influence vitamin D status in animals.

This study is a part of ongoing research into the role of vitamin D and the health of animals at the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies and The Roslin Institute.

The School also offers a vitamin D diagnostic service which allows owners to assess the vitamin D status of their pets.

The results of this collaborative study between Professor Richard Mellanby, Professor Neil Sargison, Emma Hurst and Ping Zhou from The Roslin Institute and staff from Scotland’s Rural College have been published in the open access Scientific Reports.

Investigation of relationship between vitamin D status and reproductive fitness in Scottish hill sheep. Ping Zhou, Thomas G. McEvoy, Andrew C. Gill, Nicola R. Lambe, Claire R. Morgan-Davies, Emma Hurst, Neil D. Sargison, Richard J. Mellanby. Scientific Reports (2019) vol 9, article number 1162,

Article details

  • Date
  • 11 February 2019
  • Source
  • The Roslin Institute
  • Subject(s)
  • Animal breeding and genetics
  • Animal nutrition