Endocrine and metabolic changes during altered growth rates in beef cattle.
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Eight steers from a group of 14 were fed ad libitum from 240 to 510 kg live weight, gaining at 1.4 +/- .2 kg/d. The six other steers were diet-restricted and grew at .37 +/- .09 kg/d from 240 to 307 kg, prior to ad libitum realimentation on the same diet to a final weight of 510 kg. Blood samples taken during the growth phases from both treatments were analyzed for insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I), triiodothyronine (T3), thyroxine (T4), glucose (GLU), nonesterified fatty acids (NEFA), and blood urea nitrogen (BUN) and (or) growth hormone (GH). During restricted growth, mean serum concentrations of GH were elevated (45.6 vs 23.4 ng/ml; P less than .05), serum concentrations of IGF-I decreased (108 vs 167 ng/ml; P less than .05) compared with control steers with ad libitum access to feed. Levels of T4 and GLU also were lower (P less than .05) during restricted than during normal growth. During early realimentation, levels of GLU (P less than .05), IGF-I (P less than .01), T4 and BUN (P less than .01) increased. Levels of T3 remained unchanged, whereas concentration of NEFA declined (P less than .001). Blood urea nitrogen decreased during early realimentation despite a large increase in diet protein intake and in protein storage, suggesting an increased efficiency of nitrogen use for protein synthesis. During realimentation, IGF-I levels rose above those of control steers and remained higher at the final weight of 510 kg (P less than .05).(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)