The role of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids in reproduction of sheep and cattle

Catherine Gulliver, Michael Friend, Belinda King, Edward Clayton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

134 Citations (Scopus)


The positive effects of fat and energy supplementation on improvements in reproduction are well documented. However, the specific effects of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (n-3) on reproductive success in ruminants have not been examined in detail. While the link between n-3 and markers associated with reproduction, in particular, prostaglandin F2' (PGF2') and the link between PGF2' and reproductive outcomes are well established, evidence of a direct effect of high n-3 diets on measurable reproductive outcomes in ruminants is lacking. Therefore, the aim of the current review was to examine the effect of n-3 on a number of reproductive markers and measurable outcomes in sheep and cattle. There is strong evidence linking consumption of diets high in n-3 with reduced circulating peripheral inflammatory markers such as PGF2'. Inflammatory eicosanoids including PGF2', in particular, can significantly affect reproduction outcomes such as the onset of oestrus, embryo survival and parturition. While there is also evidence linking n-3 supplementation with longer time to oestrus and parturition associated with reduced PGF2', the effects of n-3 on other measurable outcomes of reproductive success, such as pregnancy rate, embryo survival and intergenerational effects on the health and production of offspring are largely unknown. Similarly, the effects of diets high in n-3 or n-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids on male fertility are also unknown.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9-22
Number of pages14
JournalAnimal Reproduction Science
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2012


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