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Piglet Birth Weight and Litter Uniformity: Effects of Weaning-to-Pregnancy Interval and Body Condition Changes in Sows of Different Parities and Crossbred Lines

27 March 2013

Litter uniformity was compromised in a Dutch trial by severe sow body condition loss during lactation and improved in sows with a prolonged weaning-to-pregnancy interval.

In Journal of Animal Science, J.G.M. Wientjes of Wageningen University in the Netherlands and co-authors there and at Institute for Pig Genetics BV, report their study of piglet birth weight and litter uniformity in sows of different parities and crossbred lines in relation to 1) the weaning-to-pregnancy interval (WPI) and 2) sow body condition changes (in bodyweight and backfat thickness) during lactation and gestation in sows with a short WPI (seven days or less).

At the IPG research farm, individual piglet birth weights and sow body condition (bodyweight and backfat thickness at farrowing and weaning) were measured of 949 TOPIGS20 and 889 TOPIGS40 sows with more than four total born piglets, inseminated between 2003 and 2011.

In all analyses, mean piglet birth weight and birth weight standard deviations and co-efficients of variation were corrected for total number born.

Total number born was higher in sows with a WPI of eight to 21 days (+1.2 piglets; n=72) and more than 21 days (+0.7 piglets; n=182) compared with sows with a WPI of seven days or less (P<0.01; n=1,584).

Mean piglet birth weight was not affected by WPI. Birth weight standard deviation (-23g) and co-efficient of variation (-1.7 per cent) were lower in sows with a WPI more than 21 days compared with sows with a WPI of seven days or less (P<0.01).

Effects of WPI were independent of sow parity.

Effects of body condition changes in sows with a WPI of seven days or less were studied separately in TOPIGS20 sows inseminated between 2006 and 2011 (n=808) and in TOPIGS40 sows inseminated between 2003 and 2008 (n=747). Sow body condition loss during lactation was not related with subsequent total number born or mean piglet birth weight.

Only in TOPIGS20 sows, more bodyweight loss during lactation was related with higher subsequent birth weight standard deviation (Β= 0.83g per kg; P<0.01; Β= 1.62g/%; P<0.01) and more backfat loss during lactation was related with higher subsequent birth weight standard deviation (Β= 5.11g/mm; P<0.01) and co-efficient of variation (Β=0.36 %/mm; P<0.01), independent of sow parity.

Sow bodyweight increase during gestation was negatively related with total number born (TOPIGS20: Β= -0.06 and -0.05 piglet per kg bodyweight increase for parity 2 (P<0.01) and 3 and 4 (P<0.01), respectively; TOPIGS40: Β= -0.04 piglet per kg bodyweight increase (P<0.01) independent of sow parity).

Sow bodyweight increase during gestation was positively related with birth weight standard deviation (TOPIGS20: Β= 0.63g per kg bodyweight increase (P=0.01) independent of sow parity).

Sow body condition increase during gestation was not related with mean piglet birth weight.

Wietjes and co-authors conclude from their study that litter uniformity is compromised by severe sow body condition loss during lactation and improved in sows with a prolonged WPI. These effects are likely related to insufficient restoration of follicle development.

Reference

Wientjes J.G.M., N.M. Soede, E.F. Knol, H. van den Brand and B. Kemp. 2013. Piglet birth weight and litter uniformity: Effects of weaning-to-pregnancy interval and body condition changes in sows of different parities and crossbred lines. J. Anim. Sci. March 5, 2013 jas.2012-5659. doi: 10.2527/jas.2012-5659

Further Reading

You can view the full report (fee payable) by clicking here.

March 2013

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