Effects of supplementing with calcium salts of palm oil fatty acids or hydrogenated tallow on ewe milk production and twin lamb growth

L. A. Appeddu, D. G. Ely, D. K. Aaron, W. P. Deweese, E. Fink

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Two experiments were conducted with Polypay ewes nursing twin lambs to evaluate the effects of supplementing fat (calcium salts of palm oil fatty acids or hydrogenated tallow) on ewe lactation. In Exp. 1, ewes were fed a 52% concentrate:48% hay-based diet (as-fed basis) consisting of alfalfa hay (n = 4), endophyte-free fescue hay (n = 4), or fescue hay with 3.7% fatty acids (n = 4) from d 4 to 56 of lactation. In Exp. 2, ewes were fed similar diets that had endophyte-free fescue hay (n = 6), fescue hay with 3.7% fatty acids (n = 5), or fescue hay with 3.1% tallow (n = 6) from d 14 before lambing until d 57 of lactation. Diet formulations with supplemental fat were more nutrient dense, and treatments were fed to meet ewe nutrient requirements; this caused diets with added fat to be offered at 10 and 17% lower rates than unsupplemented diets in Exp. 1 and 2, respectively. Lambs were maintained to consume only ewe milk. Ewe milk production and composition were determined using a portable milking machine following a 3-h separation from lambs. In Exp. 1, milk fat content was increased (P < 0.01) when ewes consumed fescue hay with fatty acids vs. the fescue hay diet (11.4 vs. 8.3%). Ewes fed fescue hay with fatty acids lost the most (P < 0.05) weight over lactation (-8.6 kg) compared with ewes fed the alfalfa hay (-2.4 kg) and fescue hay (-3.8 kg) diets. Other milk measures, lamb gain, and production efficiencies were not changed. In Exp. 2, ewes supplemented with fatty acids produced more (P < 0.05) milk fat than those fed tallow (290 vs. 210 g/d). The proportion of synthesized milk fat 14:0 was decreased (P < 0.01), but the percentage of incorporated 16:0 increased (P < 0.05) when fatty acids were fed. Dietary fat digestibility by ewes was increased (P < 0.01) by fatty acid supplementation but decreased (P < 0.01) when tallow was added. Although ewe weight measures were not changed in Exp. 2, twin lamb gain per ewe organic matter intake was most efficient (P < 0.05) when ewes were supplemented with fatty acids. Results suggest that feeding hydrogenated tallow decreased nutrient availability for ewe milk fat production. A complete diet based on endophyte-free fescue hay can replace a traditional alfalfa hay diet, whereas supplementing with the calcium salts of palm oil fatty acids may be more feasible when energy is limiting during ewe lactation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2780-2789
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Animal Science
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2004


  • Alfalfa
  • Ewe
  • Fat
  • Fescue
  • Lactation
  • Lamb

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (all)


Dive into the research topics of 'Effects of supplementing with calcium salts of palm oil fatty acids or hydrogenated tallow on ewe milk production and twin lamb growth'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this