The VitDAL published their latest study on vitamin D and health outcomes this week. The work was a collaborative study between R(D)SVS, Roslin Institute and SRUC and explored the relationship between serum 25(OH)D concentrations in late autumn and subsequent breeding outcomes the following year in three flocks of sheep. The sheep were not receiving any supplementary food at the time of sampling which makes this flock a very informative cohort in which to explore the relationship between vitamin D and health outcomes. An important finding in this study was that the white faced Lleyn sheep had higher 25(OH)D3 concentrations than the darker coated Scottish Blackface sheep yet concentrations of 25(OH)D2, which is not produced in the skin, were not different between the 2 breeds. Consistent with our earlier work in Soay sheep, this study shows the impact coat colour has on 25(OH)D3 status in animals. In addition, we found that 25(OH)D concentrations were correlated with the weight of lambs born the following spring. Again, this work is consistent with many studies in humans which have shown an association between vitamin D status and birth weight.
Working with SRUC was a great experience and we look forward to collaborating further in the future. The paper can be accessed at the following link