Plasma hormones and metabolites in cattle in relation to breed (Belgian Blue vs Holstein) and conformation (double-muscled vs dual-purpose type).
Four Belgian Blue double-muscled type (BBDM)_ bulls, four Belgian Blue dual-purpose type (BBDP) bulls and four Holstein bulls were used in a fattening trial in order to relate differences in the extent of muscle development and adiposity to differences in digestibility, endocrine status, protein and lipid metabolism. The larger muscle development in BBDM animals was associated with higher nitrogen retention, higher food conversion efficiency (P<0.05) and lower apparent digestibility (P<0.05). No difference was found between the groups for plasma glucose concentration. Higher creatinine, lower α-amino nitrogen, lower triglycerides and higher non-esterified fatty acid plasma levels were observed in BBDM as compared to Holstein bulls (P<0.05), the BBDP group being intermediate. A trend to a higher cholesterol plasma level was found in BBDM animals. There was no difference between the three groups in plasma fatty acid composition, except for the C14:0 content. Some of the differences in plasma metabolites were related to carcass composition and endocrine regulation, a decrease in muscle development and an increase in adiposity being associated with lower growth hormone production (P<0.05) and higher insulin (P<0.05) and IGF secretions. The insulin/growth hormone ratio at the end of the fattening period was 0.0011, 0.0018 and 0.0069 in BBDM, BBDP and Holstein bulls, respectively, and was directly associated with fat deposition.