Caffeine is commonly used to treat pre-and postnatal injuries, including apnoea in premature infants, as well as neurological impairment caused by hypoxia or asphyxiation often associated with difficult birthing. As an adenosine antagonist, caffeine is metabolised rapidly and transported into many tissues. Caffeine stimulates the brain respiratory centre, improving respiratory function in immature infants or neonates, provides neuroprotection to the fetal brain, and initiates non-shivering thermoregulation increasing metabolic rates.
Recently, potential benefits of caffeine for animal production have been investigated. This has particularly occurred in pig production, where large litters are associated with relatively long parturition durations, and piglets born near the end of the parturition period have an increased risk of mortality due to asphyxia-related birthing injury. Similarly, in sheep, dystocia or prolonged parturition is a significant problem, where neonatal injury, dystocia and death in utero contributes to approximately 46 per cent of lamb mortalities. Within these two livestock production systems, large prevalences of neonatal mortality is a persistent issue contributing to lost revenue, as well as being a significant animal welfare concern.
Pre-partum maternal caffeine supplementation is a promising strategy to reduce neonatal mortality; however, there needs to be refinement of appropriate quantities administered, duration and administration pathway to provide producers with an efficient and cost-effective method to reduce mortality rates and increase production output. The information in this review details effects, benefits and important considerations regarding caffeine use in animal production, and identifies areas of limited knowledge where further research is needed.
Anim Reprod Sci. 2021 Mar;226:106700.doi: 10.1016/j.anireprosci.2021.106700.
1The University of Adelaide, School of Animal and Veterinary Sciences, Davies Livestock Research Centre, Roseworthy Campus, Mudla Wirra Rd, Roseworthy, South Australia, 5371, Australia; Turretfield Research Centre, South Australian Research and Development Institute, Rosedale, South Australia, 5350, Australia. Electronic address: firstname.lastname@example.org.
2The University of Adelaide, School of Animal and Veterinary Sciences, Davies Livestock Research Centre, Roseworthy Campus, Mudla Wirra Rd, Roseworthy, South Australia, 5371, Australia.
3Turretfield Research Centre, South Australian Research and Development Institute, Rosedale, South Australia, 5350, Australia.