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Reduced growth performance in gilt progeny is not improved by segregation from sow progeny in the grower–finisher phase

Craig, J.R., Hewitt, R.J.E., Muller, T.L., Cottrell, J.J., Dunshea, F.R. and Pluske, J.R.ORCID: 0000-0002-7194-2164 (2019) Reduced growth performance in gilt progeny is not improved by segregation from sow progeny in the grower–finisher phase. Animal, 13 (10). pp. 2232-2241.

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Gilt progeny (GP) are born and weaned lighter than sow progeny (SP) and tend to have higher rates of mortality and morbidity. This study quantified the lifetime growth performance differences between GP and SP and, additionally, evaluated whether segregating GP and SP in the grower-finisher period compared to mixing them within common pens reduced this variation. It was hypothesised that GP would be lighter than SP at every stage and segregation would improve growth performance of both GP and SP. All piglets born to 61 gilts (parity 1) and 47 sows (parities 2 to 7; mean 3.5 ± 0.2) were allocated to four treatments at 10 weeks of age: (i) GP housed together (GG), (ii) GP mixed (M) with SP (GM), (iii) SP housed together (SS) and (iv) SP mixed with GP (SM). The GM and SM pigs were housed together in common pens after movement into the grower-finisher facility. Individual live weight of all progeny was recorded at birth, weaning (WWT), 10 weeks of age (10WT) and sale (SWT). Individual hot carcass weight (HCW), fat depth at the head of the last rib (P2) and dressing percentage were measured at slaughter. Gilt progeny were lighter at birth (P = 0.038), weaning (P < 0.001) and through to sale (P = 0.001) than SP. Nursery and grower-finisher performance differences in GP were highly attributable to their lower WWT compared to SP (P < 0.001 when fitted as a covariate). Segregation of GP and SP increased grower-finisher average daily gain (ADG) in SP but decreased ADG and SWT in GP (P < 0.10). Segregated SP had increased average daily feed intake but only in males (P = 0.007); HCW (P < 0.001) and P2 fat depth (P = 0.055) were higher in mixed female GP, but there was no difference (P > 0.10) in female SP, or in males. In conclusion, GP were lighter at every stage than SP and differences after weaning were highly related to the lighter WWT of GP. Under the conditions of this study, overall segregation of GP and SP showed no consistent advantages in growth performance for both groups and differed significantly between males and females.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Agricultural Sciences
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Copyright: © The Animal Consortium 2019
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