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

Effects of a controlled heat stress during late gestation, lactation, and after weaning on thermoregulation, metabolism, and reproduction of primiparous sows1


This article in JAS

  1. Vol. 91 No. 6, p. 2700-2714
    Received: Nov 01, 2012
    Accepted: Mar 06, 2013
    Published: November 25, 2014

    2 Corresponding author(s):

  1. A. M. Williams,
  2. T. J. Safranski,
  3. D. E. Spiers,
  4. P. A. Eichen,
  5. E. A. Coate and
  6. M. C. Lucy 2
  1. Department of Animal Sciences, University of Missouri, Columbia 65211


Heat stress (HS) causes seasonal infertility in sows and decreases reproductive efficiency. The objective was to examine thermoregulation, metabolic responses, and reproduction in sows exposed to HS or thermoneutral (TN) conditions during different phases of a production cycle (gestation, lactation, and breeding). Fifty-eight first-parity Landrace (n = 26) or Landrace × Large White F1 (n = 32) sows were rotated through environmental chambers for 57 d beginning in late gestation. The ambient temperature sequences included either TN (18°C to 20°C) or HS (24°C to 30°C) for each production phase with the following treatment groups: TN-TN-TN (n = 15), TN-HS-TN (n = 14), HS-TN-HS (n = 14), and HS-HS-HS (n = 15) for gestation-farrowing-breeding (20, 24, and 13 d, respectively). Regardless of the temperature treatment, rectal temperatures were greater (P < 0.001) during lactation (39.36°C ± 0.01°C) than during the gestation (38.27°C ± 0.01°C) or the breeding period (38.77°C ± 0.01°C). The increase in rectal temperature (P < 0.001) and respiration rate (P < 0.001) in response to the HS was greatest during lactation. There was an effect of day (P < 0.001) on serum IGF-1 and insulin concentrations because both insulin and IGF-1 increased after farrowing. Compared with HS sows, the TN sows had greater feed intake (P < 0.001) and greater serum concentrations of insulin (early lactation; P < 0.05) and IGF-1 (late lactation; P < 0.05) when they were lactating. The effects of HS on sow BW, back fat, and loin eye area were generally not significant. Average BW of individual piglets at weaning was approximately 0.5 kg lighter for the sows in the HS farrowing room (P < 0.05). Weaning-to-estrus interval, percentage sows inseminated after weaning, subsequent farrowing rate, and subsequent total born were not affected by treatment. In summary, regardless of ambient temperature, sows undergo pronounced and sustained changes in rectal temperature when they transition through gestation, lactation, weaning, and rebreeding. The effects of HS on rectal temperature, respiration rate, feed intake, and metabolic hormones were greatest during lactation. The controlled HS that we imposed affected piglet weaning weight, but rebreeding and subsequent farrowing performance were not affected.

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