Biochemical changes during fasting or the withholding of feed for 5 day were studied in serum of camelids (dromedary camel, llama) and ruminants (sheep, steers). Camels maintained low levels of 13-hydroxybutyrate (BHB) and high levels of glucose but showed some increased levels of non-esterified fatty acid (NEFA) and urea when fasting. Sheep and steers showed a rise in serum BHB and much higher increases of NEFA than camels and llamas. Sheep showed decreased serum glucose. The llama showed some increase in BHB but NEFA was lower than the other three species. The results indicate that camelids have a unique ability to control lipolytic and gluconeogenic activity to prevent or postpone the state of ketosis. Understanding and manipulation of these metabolic mechanisms in cattle and sheep could have great benefit to the livestock industry.
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