Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: February 25, 2003
Publication Date: N/A
Technical Abstract: It is known that events associated with parturition, such as the rise in fetal cortisol, are necessary for proper growth in neonatal pigs. We have previously reported that pigs born by Caesarian section have impaired growth rates compared to natural-born pigs. The rise in fetal cortisol and the stress associated with birth are necessary to stimulate optimal postnatal growth and development in pigs. Therefore, it may be possible to provide an exogenous glucocorticoid to the neonatal pig to influence the somatotrophic axis and improve growth performance. It is known that chronic glucocorticoid exposure hinders growth, however, we have recently reported that a single administration of dexamethasone (a potent synthetic glucocorticoid) at birth increases growth of neonatal pigs to 18 days of age. Furthermore, we subsequently reported that the beneficial growth effects associated with dexamethasone treatment persist until market age. Continued research in this area demonstrated that the beneficial effects associated with providing exogenous glucocorticoids to the perinatal pig are influenced by several factors such as environmental stressors and sow productivity. Collectively, this series of studies provide significant evidence that glucocorticoids play a major role in postnatal growth and development in the pig. Additionally, this research provides support for our hypothesis that the endocrine system of the perinatal pig can be programmed in a manner which would be beneficial with regard to overall performance and productivity. This information will be of interest to scientists, veterinarians, industry personnel, producers, and swine extension specialists.