Submitted to: Journal of Animal Science Supplement
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/19/2001
Publication Date: N/A
Technical Abstract: We previously reported that dexamethasone (Dex) treatment at birth increases growth in neonatal piglets. The objective of this study was to further evaluate effects of Dex treatment at birth on growth in piglets. Thirty-four crossbred piglets were assigned according to birth weight and sex to receive either saline (Control; n=11 boars and 4 gilts) or Dex (1 mg/kg body weight; n=10 boars and 9 gilts) i.m. within 1 h of birth. Body weights were recorded weekly and on d 18, at which time all piglets were sacrificed for blood and tissue collection. Birth weights (1.483+/.32 kg) did not differ between Dex and Control piglets; however, boars (1.55+/.06 kg) were heavier at birth than gilts (1.37+/.10 kg; P<.05). Overall average daily gain (ADG) was increased (P<.05) in Dex piglets (.227+/.053 kg/d) compared to Controls (.187+/.055 kg/d). Dex increased ADG (P<.02) from birth to 2 wk compared to Controls. The greatest increase in ADG occurred from wk 1 to wk 2 (P<.004) in Dex piglets (.245+/.053 kg/d) compared to Control piglets (.190+/.040 kg/d). Serum concentration of IGF-1 was influenced by treatment (P<.04). In Dex piglets, serum concentration of IGF-1 was increased by 17.3% (P<.04) compared to Controls. There was no difference in serum IGF-2 concentrations between Dex and Control piglets. For serum GH there was a treatment x sex interaction (P<.04). Dex decreased (P<.02) serum concentration of GH by 51% in boars compared to Control boars, while no effect was observed in gilts. Based on the results of the present study and the previous report, Dex treatment at birth enhances growth in piglets during the first 18 d following birth. Further research is needed to determine if this increase is maintained throughout the weaning, growing and finishing stages.