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ARS Home » Plains Area » Clay Center, Nebraska » U.S. Meat Animal Research Center » Livestock Bio-Systems » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #345751

Research Project: Improving Lifetime Productivity in Swine

Location: Livestock Bio-Systems

Title: Characterization of plasma metabolites at late gestation and lactation in early parity sows on production and post-weaning reproductive performance

item Rempel, Lea
item Vallet, Jeff
item Nonneman, Danny - Dan

Submitted to: Journal of Animal Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 12/15/2017
Publication Date: 3/6/2018
Publication URL:
Citation: Rempel, L.A., Vallet, J.L., Nonneman, D.J. 2018. Characterization of plasma metabolites at late gestation and lactation in early parity sows on production and post-weaning reproductive performance. Journal of Animal Science. 96(2):521-531.

Interpretive Summary: The period in which a sow is nursing a litter of piglets is very energetically demanding. Young sows nursing their first litter are more susceptible to these demands and will respond differently than mature sows that are nursing their second litter. Blood chemical differences between young and mature sows were determined at; 1) late pregnancy, 2) shortly after giving birth to piglets, and 3) the end of the nursing period. The blood profiles were then analyzed for differences and relationships with sow reproduction and piglet production. Blood chemical profiles suggest that young sows utilize body tissue reserves to support nursing a litter of piglets and constitutively receive chemical signals to increase feed intake. Increasing protein availability to nursing sows, while preserving tissue stores, will improve piglet performance and enhance sow reproductive response. A greater benefit will be gained by sows nursing their first litter.

Technical Abstract: Lactation is a very energy demanding period for sows. The current study provides a better understanding of the biochemical response of first- (n = 246) or second-parity (n = 127) sows during late gestation through lactation and assesses relationships with piglet production and dam reproductive performance. Plasma samples were collected from first- or second-parity dams at late gestation (110 d gestation [d110G]), d 1 post-farrowing (d1PF), and weaning (WN) then analyzed for various stress and protein metabolism compounds, including; creatine, creatine phosphokinase (CPK) activity, creatinine, urea nitrogen, albumin, and lactate. Litter performance was measured as number of piglets nursed and piglet ADG. Post-weaning reproductive performance was assessed by measuring weaning-to-estrus interval (WEI) and subsequent ovulation rate collected at time of harvest. Plasma creatine and CPK activity increased (P < 0.05) between d110G and d1PF. Plasma creatinine decreased (P < 0.05) from d110G through WN in first-parity dams, but remained similar between d110G and d1PF before declining (P < 0.05) at WN in second-parity dams. Plasma urea nitrogen increased (P < 0.05) over the course of the study and was negatively (P < 0.05)associated with piglet ADG at d110G and d1PF and with ovulation rate at d110G (P < 0.05). Similarly, plasma albumin increased (P < 0.05) in first-parity dams over the course of the study, whereas it plateaued (P < 0.05) at d1PF and remained similar (P > 0.10) through WN in second-parity dams. First-parity dams had less (P < 0.05) plasma lactate at d110G than at d1PF or WN. However, second-parity dams had increased (P < 0.05) plasma lactate at d110G and d1PF, then decreased (P < 0.05) levels at WN. Plasma lactate at WN was positively (P < 0.05) associated with WEI in first-parity dams, but negatively (P < 0.05) related to WEI at d1PF in second-parity dams. Plasma lactate levels at all time points were positively (P < 0.05) associated with ovulation rate in second-parity dams. The biochemical profile of these dams differed by parity and merits further investigations into these differences to identify methods to improve physiological response to lactation for improved animal welfare, production, and reproductive performance.