University Of Tasmania
152669-Dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry scans accurately predict differing body fat content in live sheep.pdf (885.73 kB)
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Dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry scans accurately predict differing body fat content in live sheep

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posted on 2023-05-21, 12:35 authored by Miller, DW, Emma BennettEmma Bennett, Harrison, JL, Anderson, F, Adam, CL

Background: There is considerable interest in implementing mobile scanning technology for on-farm body composition analysis on live animals. These experiments evaluated the use of dual energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) as an accurate method of total body fat measurement in live sheep. Results: In Exp. 1, visceral and whole body fat analysis was undertaken in sheep with body condition scores (BCS) in the range 2 to 3.25 (scale 1: thin to 5: fat). The relationship of BCS was moderately correlated with visceral fat depot mass (r=0.59, P<0.01, n=24) and whole body fat (r=0.70, P<0.001, n=24). In Exp. 2, sheep with BCS in the range 2.25 to 3.75 were blood sampled to analyse circulating leptin concentrations, and were DXA scanned immediately post mortem for total body fat. Plasma leptin concentrations had low correlations with BCS (r=0.50, P<0.05, n=17) and DXA body fat (r=0.42, P<0.05, n=17), and no correlation with chemical body fat (r=0.17, P>0.05, n=9). There was a moderate correlation between DXA body fat and BCS (r=0.70, P<0.01, n=17), and DXA body fat was highly correlated with chemical body fat (r=0.81, P<0.001, n=9). In Exp. 3, a series of five DXA scans, at 8-week intervals, was performed on growing sheep over a 32-week period. The average BCS ranged from 2.390.07 (S.E.M.) to 3.05 +/- 0.11 and the DXA body fat (%) ranged from 16.8 +/- 0.8 to 24.2 +/- 1.2. There was a moderate correlation between DXA body fat and BCS over the 32weeks (r=0.61, P<0.001, n=24). Conclusions: p id=Par3 Overall, these experiments indicated that there was good agreement between BCS, DXA and chemical analysis for measuring total body fat in sheep, and that DXA scanning is a valid method for longitudinal measurement of total body fat in live sheep.


Publication title

Journal of Animal Science and Biotechnology



Article number









Tasmanian School of Medicine


BioMed Central Ltd.

Place of publication

United Kingdom

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© 2018 The Author(s). This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) License, (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

Repository Status

  • Open

Socio-economic Objectives

Sheep for meat

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