Effect of Feeding Intensity on Metabolic Maintenance, Reproduction and Welfare in Blue Fox (Vulpes lagopus)

Main Article Content

Hannu Korhonen
Juhani Sepponen
Heli Lindeberg
Nita Koskinen


The purpose was to evaluate effects of feeding intensity on metabolic maintenance, reproduction and welfare in blue fox vixens. Study groups were: Group 1: heavy slimming. Ad libitum feeding during September-November, aimed to produce extremely fat animals. Heavy slimming before breeding season, aim to have animals with normal breeding body condition. Group 2: maintenance of condition. Restricted feeding 35-45% from the level of Group 1 during September-November. Natural slimming to normal breeding condition. Group 3: Rising condition. Restricted feeding 50-60% from the level of Group 1 during September-November. Aim was to produce lean animals. Rising body condition was before breeding season, aimed to have animals with normal breeding body condition. Blood samples were taken regularly throughout the study. Results showed that urea concentration varied seasonally (P<0.001). Concentrations were lowest during winter period. In Group 1, heavy slimming before mating season lowered urea concentration significantly (P<0.001). During autumn period, concentration was lowest in Group 3 because of pronounced feeding restriction. Creatinine levels were highest during summer period in all groups. Glucose concentration varied seasonally in all groups (P<0.001). Intensive feeding clearly affected on triglycerides, glucose and insulin levels (P<0.01). Growth hormone (GH) and insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1) levels were highest during autumn period. Leptin concentration was highest in December in all groups. Thereafter, it clearly declined towards summer (P<0.001). Concentration of non-esterified fatty acids (NEFA) was highest in Group 1. Prolactin levels were same in all groups until insemination. During pregnancy, levels increased similarly in groups. After whelping, prolactin levels were low (P<0.05) in Group 1 compared to other groups. Whelping result in Group 1was very low (P<0.001) compared to Groups 2 and 3. It can be concluded that feeding intensity essentially influences on hormonal levels and reproduction in blue fox vixens.


Download data is not yet available.


Metrics Loading ...

Article Details



Asikainen J. (2013). Wintering strategy of the boreal raccoon dog (Nyctereutes procyonoides) – Applications to farming practice. Dissertations in Forestry and Natural Sciences. University of Eastern Finland. pp. 82.

Barzilai N., Rossetti L. (1995). The relationship between changes in body composition and insulin responsiveness in models of the aging rat. Am. J. Physiol. Endocrinol. Metab. 269 (3):591-597.

Blache D., Zhang S., Martin G.B. (2003). Fertility in male sheep: modulators of the acute effects of nutrition on the reproductive axis of male sheep. Reprod. Suppl. 61: 387-402.

Burlikowska K., Szymeczko R., Iben C., Piotrowska A., Boguslawska-Tryk M., Kubacki S. (2008). Lipid metabolism indices in the blood serum of reproductive female polar foxes in relation to age of animals. Medycyna Wet. 64 (7): 879-882.

Chagas L.M., Bass J.J., Blache D., Burke C.R., Kay J.K., Lindsay D.R., Lucy M.C., Martin G.B., Meier S., Rhodes F.M., Roche J.R., Thatcher W.W., Webb R. ( 2007). Invited review: new perspectives on the roles of nutrition and metabolic priorities in the subfertility of high-producing dairy cows. J. Dairy Sci. 90:4022-4032.

Charles J.M., Leeming N.M. ,(1998). Chronic dietary toxicity study on 2,4-dichlorophenoxybutyric acid in the dog. Toxicol. Sci. 46:134-142.

Fuglei E., Aanestad M., Berg J.P. (2000). Hormones and metabolites of arctic fox (Alopex lagopus) in response to season, starvation and re-feeding. Comp. Biochem. Physiol. A Mol. Integr. Physiol. 126 (2): 287-294.

Fuglei E, Mustonen A.-M., Nieminen P. (2004). Effects of season, food deprivation and re-feeding on leptin, ghrelin and growth hormone in arctic foxes (Alopex lagopus) on Svalbard, Norway. Journal of Comparative Physiology B 174: 157-162

Hori Y., Uechi M., Kanakubo K., Sano T., Oyamada T. (2006). Canine ovarian serous papillary adenocarcinoma with neoplastic hypercalcemia. J. Vet. Med. Sci. 68 (9):979-982.

Ishioka K., Hatai H., Komabayashi K., Soliman M.M., Shibata H., Honjoh T., Kimura K., Saito M. (2005). Diurnal variations of serum leptin in dogs: effects of fasting and re-feeding. Vet. J. 169:85-90.

Jöchle W. (1997). Prolactin in canine and feline reproduction. Reprod. Dom. Anim. 32:183-193.

Kemnitz J.W., Roecker E.B., Weindruch R., (1994). Dietary restriction increases insulin sensitivity and lowers blood-glucose in rhesus-monkeys. Am. J. Physiol. 266 (4):540-547.

Kempe R. (2018). Selection for Welfare and Feed Efficiency in Finnish Blue Fox. Ph.D. Thesis. University of Helsinki, Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry. 59 p.

Koivula M, Mäntysaari EA., Strandén I. (2009) New fertility traits in breeding value evaluation of Finnish blue fox. Acta Agriculturae Scandinavica Section A 59: 131-136

Korhonen H. (1988). Regulation of energy economy in raccoon dogs and blue foxes: a process of dynamic interactions. Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology 91A: 263-268.

Korhonen H.T., Huuki H. (2014). Serum biochemistry and hematology in blue fox (Vulpes lagopus). Open Journal of Veterinary Medicine 4: 255-260.

Korhonen H.T., Eskeli P., Lappi T., Huuki H., Sepponen J. (2014). Effects of feeding intensity and Ca:P ratio on foot welfare in blue foxes (Vulpes lagopus). Open Journal of Animal Sciences 4: 153-164.

Korhonen H.T., Ojala E., Moisander-Jylhä A-M., Kempe R., Sepponen J., Koistinen T., Peura J. (2017). Effects of plane of nutrition on foot condition and animal welfare in blue foxes. NJF Seminar 498, Radisson Blur Plaza Hotel, Oslo, Norway, 18- 20 October 2017. Proceedings pp. 55-56.

Koskinen N., Tauson A-H., Sepponen J. Rekilä T. (2008). Feeding history affects cub survival of young breeding blue foxes (Alopex lagopus), a field study. International Fur Animal Scientific Association 2008 Congress: August 19-23: Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

Koskinen N., Tauson A-H., Sepponen J., Rekilä T. (2009). Siniketun energiatarpeen määrittäminen. In: Rehunvalmistajien luentopäivät 10.-11.2. 2009 Keuruu

Koskinen N., Sepponen J., Tauson A-H. (2011). Feeding intensity and body condition of young blue fox vixens, effect on breeding result. NJF seminar 450, Knivsta, Sweden, 1-2 November, 2011. 2 pp.

Larson B.T., Lawler D.F., Spitznagel E.L., Kealy R.D. (2003). Improved glucose tolerance with lifetime diet restriction favorably affects disease and survival in dogs. J. Nutr. 133:2887-2892.

Lawler D.F., Ballam J.M., Meadows R., Larson BT., Li Q., Stowe H.D., Kealy R.D.( 2007). Influence of lifetime food restriction on physiological variables in Labrador retriever dogs. Exp. Geront. 42:204-214.

Lottati M., Kolka C., Dittman J., Yae S., Harrison L.N., Mooradian V., Kirkman .E., Bergman R.(2008).Free fatty acids modulate insulin sensitivity following reduction of visceral fat by greater omentectomy in obese dogs. Obesity 16:62.

Mononen J., Lindeberg H., Korhonen H.T., Kempe R. (2018). Large size of farmed foxes and its effects on animal welfare. Report for Fur Europe. Natural Resources Institute Finland, Luke. 42 p.

Mustonen A-M., Pyykönen T., Asikainen J., Hänninen S., Mononen J., Nieminen P. (2005). Circannual leptin and ghrelin levels of the blue fox (Alopex lagopus) in reference to seasonal rhythms of body mass, adiposity and food intake. J. Exp. Zool. 303A:26-36.

Mustonen A-M., Nieminen P. (2017). A review of the physiology of a survival expert of big freeze, deep snow, and an empty stomach: the boreal raccoon dog (Nyctereutes procyonoides) Journal of Comparative Physiology B, 1-11. DOI 10.1007/s00360-017-1114-5.

Mondain-Monval M., Møller O.M., Smith A.J,, McNeilly A,S., Scholler R.(1985). Seasonal variations of plasma prolactin and LH concentrations in the female blue fox (Alopex lagopus). J. Reprod. Fert. 74:439-448.

Nieminen P., Asikainen J., Hyvärinen H.( 2001). Effects of seasonality and fasting on the plasma leptin and thyroxin levels of the raccoon dog (Nyctereutes procyonoides) and the blue fox (Alopex lagopus). J. Exp. Zool. 289:109-118.

Nieminen P, Saarela S, Pyykönen T, Asikainen J, Mononen J and Mustonen A-M 2004 Endocrine response to fasting in the overwintering captive raccoon dog (Nyctereutes procyonoides). Journal of Experimental Zoology 301A: 919-929.