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Does the relationship between sow body composition change in lactation and re-breeding success still exist?

Muller, T.L., Hewitt, R.J.E., Plush, K.J., Souza, D.N.D, Pluske, J.R.ORCID: 0000-0002-7194-2164, Miller, D.W.ORCID: 0000-0002-4634-5819 and van Barneveld, R.J. (2022) Does the relationship between sow body composition change in lactation and re-breeding success still exist? Animal Production Science . Online Early.

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Sow body composition largely reflects the amount of lean and fat tissue stores in the body, and is measured, managed and reported because traditionally when sows mobilise body tissues in lactation to support piglet growth, adverse consequences in subsequent reproduction may be observed. These consequences are largely driven by metabolic changes exerting negative influences on the reproductive axes through luteinising hormone and follicle stimulating hormone and direct impact on the ovary. This results in sows that take longer to ovulate, have lower ovulation rates and shed poorer-quality oocytes, translating to delayed wean to service intervals, higher pregnancy failure and lower litter sizes. Sow management needs to meet both the needs of the piglet (adequate colostrum and milk intake for survival and growth) and the needs of the sow (successful re-breeding). The way pork producers tackle this is through diets designed to match sow requirements at different production stages. We have recently observed, despite efforts (nutritional challenges), that we are unable to induce fat or lean tissue mobilisation in lactating sows, which is a novel finding, although pig populations such as in the EU, UK and USA would appear to be experiencing similar outcomes. Despite our lower reproductive performance than in much of the rest of the world as a consequence of having a closed genetic herd, the specific genetic selection programs that exist within Australia, and the resultant leaner, more efficient sows, may be a potential explanation. This, coupled with the high lactation feed intakes now commonly reported, means that sows are less likely to become catabolic and so suffer from poor re-breeding outcomes. A conclusion from these findings may mean that we now have an opportunity to feed the lactating sow to better meet the growth and survival needs of piglets, with the knowledge that we will not compromise subsequent reproduction.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Agricultural Sciences
Publisher: CSIRO Publishing
Copyright: © 2022 CSIRO.
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