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Lifetime and post-weaning determinants of performance indices of pigs

Dunshea, F.R., Kerton, D.K., Cranwell, P.D., Campbell, R.G., Mullan, B.P., King, R.H., Power, G.N. and Pluske, J.R.ORCID: 0000-0002-7194-2164 (2003) Lifetime and post-weaning determinants of performance indices of pigs. Australian Journal of Agricultural Research, 54 (4). pp. 363-370.

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The present study was designed to determine the interrelationships between sex, weaning age, and weaning weight on subsequent growth performance. Ninety-six Large White × Landrace pigs were used in a 2 × 2 × 2 factorial experiment with the respective factors being: age at weaning (14 or 28 days), weight at weaning (heavy or light), and sex (boar or gilt). Eighty pigs were offered a high quality pelleted weaner diet ad libitum while the remaining 16 pigs (2 pigs from each treatment group) were removed from the sow and fasted for 24 h before being euthanased for determination of gut histology and enzymology. The remaining pigs were weaned into individual pens and given an ad libitum diet containing 15.5 MJ DE/kg and 0.95 g available lysine/MJ DE. On Day 6 and 13 after weaning, 2 pigs from each group at each time had their feed removed and, 24 h later, were euthanased. From 3 weeks post-weaning, the remaining pigs were group-penned with contemporary pigs and fed commercial rations until slaughter at 23 weeks of age. In the first week after weaning, the heavy pigs and those weaned at 28 days ate more feed and grew faster, and gilts ate more and grew faster than boars over the same time. Pigs that were heavier at weaning were also heavier at every subsequent age. At slaughter, heavy boars weighed more than heavy gilts (110.5 v. 103.7 kg, P = 0.027), whereas this was not the case for light boars and gilts (94.1 v. 94.4 kg, P = 0.96). Whereas there were no effects of sex or weight at weaning on P2 backfat depth, pigs weaned at 14 days had more backfat at 23 weeks than pigs weaned at 28 days (13.1 v. 10.9 mm, P = 0.009). In conclusion, these data clearly indicate that the greatest determinants of immediate post-weaning performance under the present conditions were the age and weight of the pigs at weaning. However, the key determinant of lifetime growth rate appeared to be weight of pigs at weaning or, by inference, birth. Although age at weaning had no effect on lifetime growth rate, early-weaned pigs were fatter at slaughter.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences
Publisher: CSIRO
Copyright: (c) CSIRO
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