Influence of isolated alfalfa coumestrol on growth of lambs Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/d217qr95b

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  • The objective of the thesis was to determine the effects of isolated coumestrol on the growth, carcass characteristics and certain organs of wether lambs. The first of two trials was conducted over an eight week period with two groups of heavy wether lambs. Trial two was conducted over an 11 week period with two groups of four light wether lambs. Ration coumestrol contents were 112 ppm in the first trial and 145 ppm in the second trial. Due to the difficulties and expense involved in preparing a large quantity of coumestrol, only a small number of animals could be used. The treated lambs in trial one gained slightly more than the controls. In trial two, the treated lambs gained virtually the same as the controls. Statistical analysis showed that in neither case were the growth, feed conversion, carcass and organoleptic differences significant. Marked evidence of an estrogenic effect was apparent when the organ weights were compared. The liver weights of the control and treated groups within each trial were similar. Although not significant, the pituitary weights were consistently greater for the treated lambs. In trial two, the seminal vesicle weights and teat lengths of the treated lambs were significantly greater than the controls. Measurements of these organs were not taken in trial one. When compared to other studies, the increase in the weights of the seminal vesicles is greater than that which occurs when lambs are implanted with 3 mg of diethylstilbestrol. The apparent anomaly between the lack of a consistent growth response and the marked increase in seminal vesicle weight and teat length is difficult to explain. Realizing that only a limited amount of data was taken, speculation based on this data and data presented by other workers indicated that coumestrol may not necessarily affect an animal's system in the same order or at the same rate as diethytstilbestrol. Since the levels of coumestrol fed were equivalent to low levels of diethylstilbestrol (less than 0.15 mg), one would have expected only small changes in the weights of the seminal vesicles. If coumestrol was fed at levels which approach the equivalent of 2 mg. of diethylstilbestrol, it is quite possible that an animal would be adversely affected. A rectal prolapse which occurred in the tast trial substantiates this possibility to some extent. That coumestrol at the administered levels can produce a slight growth response is probable, but the limited number of animals used precludes a conclusive statement. Past experiments at the Oregon Station, particularly the earlier ones, support this probability. In evaluating the activity of coumestrol, the influence of inhibitors, potentiators, additional estrogens, storage conditions, metabolic estrogenic changes, pathogens and a variety of unknown factors should not be overlooked. Evidence that such factors may have partially obscured the results of the trials reported herein and past experiments was covered.
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