"Both farmers and scientists have known for some time that castrated male sheep live on average much longer than their intact counterparts; however, this is the first time anyone has looked at DNA to see if it also ages slower," says first-author of the study, University of Otago Anatomy PhD student Victoria Sugrue.
In order to do this, the researchers first had to generate an 'epigenetic clock' from large numbers of sheep so they could measure DNA aging. They then looked at the epigenetic clock of castrated and intact males and found their 'ticking rate' is different; meaning that the longer lives of castrated sheep, or 'wethers' as they are referred to by farmers, is reflected in their DNA.
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