The effect of varying short-term maternal feed intake during the peri-conception period on the development of ovine fetal muscle at mid-gestation was investigated. Superovulated donor Merino ewes (n = 24) were fed a roughage/grain pelleted diet (10.1 MJME/kg dry matter) at either 1.5x maintenance (H; high) or 0.5x maintenance (L; low) from 18 days before until 6 days after ovulation. Embryos were transferred to recipient ewes (n = 60) on day 6. Singleton fetuses were collected on day 75 of gestation and placental weights, fetal body dimensions and fetal organ and muscle weights recorded. The number, type and size of muscle fibres and the dry matter, RNA, DNA and protein content in the semitendinosus muscle were determined. Maternal feed intake did not influence body dimensions, organ development or muscle weights in the fetus. However, L feed intake decreased total muscle fibre number in the fetus by approximately 20% (P = 0.06) compared to H feed intake. This resulted from a reduced secondary to primary fibre ratio (P < 0.05) and indicated that secondary fibre formation occurred at a reduced rate in L fetuses. In addition, protein:DNA ratio tended to be lower in muscles of L fetuses (P < 0.1). It is concluded that restricting feed intake over the peri-conception period reduces or delays myogenesis in fetal sheep. The potential mechanisms by which nutritional availability during this period may influence subsequent myogenic development are discussed.