Sheep supplemented with omega-6 fatty acids in their diet seem to produce more male lambs, according to scientists from the University of Missouri-Columbia in the US.
Michael Roberts who led the current study, to be
published in Reproductive Biology
and Endocrinology thinks that the
abundance of oil somehow signals the female body that times of plenty
are ahead, which then triggers changes in the egg
that make it more receptive to male sperm. Ewes on a normal diet have
just as many daughters as sons, the study showed.
It is still unclear
whether the kind of fat is important, but Roberts thinks it’s just the amount of
fat that tips the balance in favour of a son, and that the type is less
The observations of
this study may have implications to the livestock industry and animal management
policies when offspring of one sex may be preferred over the other.
University of Missouri