Review article: Nutritional effects on fetal development during gestation in ruminants


  • C. U. Nwachukwu School of Agriculture and Vocational Studies, Alvan Ikoku Federal College of Education, Owerri, Imo State, Nigeria.



Maternal, Nutrition, Fetus, Pregnancy, Placenta


Intrauterine growth retardation is a massive problem in animal production as it influences
the body composition, carcass quality, and impairs health. This condition can lead to a
reduction in neonatal survival, growth, feed efficiency utilisation, and future production by
the animals. Pregnancy may negatively influence maternal nutritional status because of
increased uteroplacental blood flow, nutrient mobilisation, and transfer of nutrients from the
dam to the fetus. The critical factor for fetal survival and health is an adequate nutrient and
oxygen supply to the dam during gestation. This ability is dependent on her nutritional
supply, body size, body composition, and metabolism during pregnancy. The placenta is a
unique organ of reproduction that helps in the exchange of nutrients, respiratory gases and
excretory waste between the mother and offspring. Maternal nutrition restriction in
embryonic, placenta and fetal stages of pregnancy can result in metabolic compromise,
cardiovascular, renal and adipose tissue dysfunction. The major effects of nutritional
challenges on fetoplacental growth and development appear to occur when the placenta is
rapidly developing. Poor nutrition caused by inadequate, excess or imbalanced nutrient
intake has been shown to adversely affect subsequent reproductive performance (delayed
puberty, luteal inadequacy, reduced follicular reserve, reduced ovulation, and conception
rates). Proteins, carbohydrates, fats, minerals and vitamins are key components in animal
feeds that are required for a daily maintenance diet. Amino acids serve as building blocks for
proteins and essential precursors for the synthesis of different physiological
molecules–hormones, neurotransmitters, nitric oxide, creatine, glutathione, carnitine, and

Author Biography

C. U. Nwachukwu, School of Agriculture and Vocational Studies, Alvan Ikoku Federal College of Education, Owerri, Imo State, Nigeria.

Department of Agricultural Science