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Journal of Animal Science Abstract - Animal Growth, Physiology, and Reproduction

Effect of daily environmental temperature on farrowing rate and total born in dam line sows1


This article in JAS

  1. Vol. 91 No. 6, p. 2667-2679
    Received: Sept 26, 2012
    Accepted: Feb 25, 2013
    Published: November 25, 2014

    2 Corresponding author(s):

  1. S. Bloemhof*†,
  2. P. K. Mathur*,
  3. E. F. Knol 2 and
  4. E. H. van der Waaij
  1. TOPIGS Research Center IPG, P.O. Box 43, 6640 AA Beuningen, The Netherlands
    Animal Breeding and Genomics Centre, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 338, 6700 AH Wageningen, The Netherlands


Heat stress is known to adversely affect reproductive performance of sows. However, it is important to know on which days or periods during the reproduction cycle heat stress has the greatest effects for designing appropriate genetic or management strategies. Therefore, this study was conducted to identify days and periods that have greatest effects on farrowing rate and total born of sows using 5 different measures of heat stress. The data consisted of 22,750 records on 5024 Dutch Yorkshire dam line sows from 16 farms in Spain and Portugal. Heat stress on a given day was measured in terms of maximum temperature, diurnal temperature range and heat load. The heat load was estimated using 3 definitions considering different upper critical temperatures. Identification of days during the reproduction cycle that had maximum effect was based on the Pearson correlation between the heat stress variable and the reproduction trait, estimated for each day during the reproduction cycle. Polynomial functions were fitted to describe the trends of these correlations and the days with greatest negative correlation were considered as days with maximum effect. Correlations were greatest for maximum temperature, followed by those for heat load and diurnal temperature range. Correlations for both farrowing rate and total born were stronger in gilts than in sows. This implies that heat stress has a stronger effect on reproductive performance of gilts than of sows. Heat stress during the third week (21 to 14 d) before first insemination had largest effect on farrowing rate. Heat stress during the period between 7 d before successful insemination until 12 d after that had largest effect on total born. Correlations between temperatures on consecutive days during these periods were extremely high ( > 0.9). Therefore, for farrowing rate the maximum temperature on 21 d before first insemination and for total born the maximum temperature at day of successful insemination can be used as predictive measures of heat stress in commercial sow farms. Additionally, differences between daughter groups of sires were identified in response to high temperatures. This might indicate possibilities for genetic selection on heat tolerance.

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