Staff Publications

Staff Publications

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    'Staff publications' is the digital repository of Wageningen University & Research

    'Staff publications' contains references to publications authored by Wageningen University staff from 1976 onward.

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Recent advances in pig reproduction : Focus on impact of genetic selection for female fertility
Kemp, Bas ; Silva, Carolina L.A. Da; Soede, Nicoline M. - \ 2018
Reproduction in Domestic Animals 53 (2018)S2. - ISSN 0936-6768 - p. 28 - 36.
genetic selection - litter size - management - sow - weaning-to-oestrus interval

In the past 30 years, sows have been successfully selected for a shorter weaning-to-oestrus interval and increased litter size. This review discusses the consequences of this selection for the reproductive physiology of sows, including the consequences for litter characteristics at birth. It also discusses breeding and management opportunities to deal with this changed genetics.

Presence of anti-Müllerian hormone (AMH) during follicular development in the porcine ovary
Almeida, Fernanda R.C.L. ; Costermans, Natasja G.J. ; Soede, Nicoline M. ; Bunschoten, Annelies ; Keijer, Jaap ; Kemp, Bas ; Teerds, Katja J. - \ 2018
PLoS One 13 (2018)7. - ISSN 1932-6203

Background Anti-Müllerian hormone (AMH) is expressed by granulosa cells of developing follicles and plays an inhibiting role in the cyclic process of follicular recruitment by determining follicle-stimulating hormone threshold levels. Knowledge of AMH expression in the porcine ovary is important to understand the reproductive efficiency in female pigs. Research aim In the present study we investigated the expression of AMH during follicular development in prepubertal and adult female pigs by immunohistochemistry, laser capture micro-dissection and RT-qPCR. Results and conclusion Although in many aspects the immunohistochemical localization of AMH in the porcine ovary does not differ from other species, there are also some striking differences. As in most species, AMH appears for the first time during porcine follicular development in the fusiform granulosa cells of recruited primordial follicles and continues to be present in granulosa cells up to the antral stage. By the time follicles reach the pre-ovulatory stage, AMH staining intensity increases significantly, and both protein and gene expression is not restricted to granulosa cells; theca cells now also express AMH. AMH continues to be expressed after ovulation in the luteal cells of the corpus luteum, a phenomenon unique to the porcine ovary. The physiological function of AMH in the corpus luteum is at present not clear. One can speculate that it may contribute to the regulation of the cyclic recruitment of small antral follicles. By avoiding premature exhaustion of the ovarian follicular reserve, AMH may contribute to optimization of reproductive performance in female pigs.

Follicular development of sows at weaning in relation to estimated breeding value for within-litter variation in piglet birth weight
Costermans, N.G.J. ; Teerds, K.J. ; Keijer, J. ; Knol, E.F. ; Koopmanschap, R.E. ; Kemp, B. ; Soede, N.M. - \ 2018
Animal (2018). - ISSN 1751-7311 - 10 p.
lactation - litter uniformity - metabolism - reproduction - sows

In this study we aimed to identify possible causes of within-litter variation in piglet birth weight (birth weight variation) by studying follicular development of sows at weaning in relation to their estimated breeding value (EBV) for birth weight variation. In total, 29 multiparous sows (parity 3 to 5) were selected on their EBV for birth weight variation (SD in grams; High-EBV: 15.8±1.6, N=14 and Low-EBV: −24.7±1.5, N=15). The two groups of sows had similar litter sizes (15.7 v. 16.9). Within 24 h after parturition, piglets were cross-fostered to ensure 13 suckling piglets per sow. Sows weaned 12.8±1.0 and 12.7±1.0 piglets, respectively, at days 26.1±0.2 of lactation. Blood and ovaries were collected within 2 h after weaning. The right ovary was immediately frozen to assess average follicle size and percentage healthy follicles of the 15 largest follicles. The left ovary was used to assess the percentage morphologically healthy cumulus-oocyte complexes (COCs) of the 15 largest follicles. To assess the metabolic state of the sows, body condition and the circulating metabolic markers insulin, IGF1, non-esterified fatty acid, creatinine, leptin, urea and fibroblast growth factor 21 were analysed at weaning. No significant differences were found in any of the measured follicular or metabolic parameters between High-EBV and Low-EBV. A higher weight loss during lactation was related to a lower percentage healthy COCs (β= −0.65, P=0.02). Serum creatinine, a marker for protein breakdown, was negatively related to average follicle size (β= −0.60, P=0.05). Backfat loss during lactation was related to a higher backfat thickness at parturition and to a higher average follicle size (β=0.36, P<0.001) at weaning. In conclusion, we hypothesise that modern hybrid sows with more backfat at the start of lactation are able to mobilise more energy from backfat during lactation and could thereby spare protein reserves to support follicular development.

Effects of loose housing and the provision of alternative nesting material on peri-partum sow behaviour and piglet survival
Bolhuis, J.E. ; Raats-van den Boogaard, A.M.E. ; Hoofs, A.I.J. ; Soede, N.M. - \ 2018
Applied Animal Behaviour Science 202 (2018). - ISSN 0168-1591 - p. 28 - 33.
Behaviour - Enrichment - Loose housing - Nest-building - Parturition - Sow
Sows are strongly motivated to perform nestbuilding behaviour before parturition. This behaviour is often restricted in commercial systems due to confinement of the sow and lack of suitable nesting material to be used on slatted floors. This study aimed to investigate effects of loose vs. crated housing and the provision of alternative nesting material on periparturient sow behaviour and piglet survival. In a 2 × 2 arrangement, sixty-eight sows were assigned to either loose housing or crates and were either or not provided with nesting material consisting of jute sacks and straw balls. All sows had a rope. Postures and manipulation of materials and pen were observed using 5 min scan sampling for the 12 h before and the 24 h after parturition. Behaviour during parturition was scored continuously and included nose-nose contact between sow and piglets and crushing incidences. No interactions between treatments were found. In the 12 h prepartum, loose housed sows showed less sitting (5 vs. 9%) and ventral lying (29 vs. 38%) and more lateral lying (33 vs. 23%) and floor manipulation (10 vs. 5%) than crated sows. During parturition, loose housed sows spent less time sitting (2 vs. 6%), had fewer postural changes (34 vs. 50), showed less fence manipulation (0.1 vs. 2%) and had more nose contact with piglets (56 vs. 19 times). Provision of nesting material increased pre-partum lying (63 vs. 57%), increased manipulation of materials (14 vs. 8%) and reduced manipulation of floor (5 vs. 10%) and fence (5 vs. 9%). During parturition, sows with nesting material showed less standing (6 vs. 10%) and more lying (90 vs. 84%). No effects were found on behaviour in the 24 h after parturition or on parturition duration (3.3 ± 0.1 h). During parturition, the times lying down and the number of piglets that died by crushing tended to be lower with provision of nesting material (0.1 vs. 0.3). In the 48 h after parturition, loose housed sows crushed more piglets. In conclusion, both loose housing and the provision of alternative nesting materials affected prepartum sow behaviour and resulted in less activity during parturition, with some tendencies for beneficial effects on (near-) crushing of piglets during this period. Thus, both loose housing and the provision of alternative nesting materials, likely particularly the jute sacks, have a beneficial effect on periparturient sow behaviour.
Relationship between the estimated breeding values for litter traits at birth and ovarian and embryonic traits and their additive genetic variance in gilts at 35 days of pregnancy
Silva, Carolina L.A. da; Mulder, Han A. ; Broekhuijse, Marleen L.W.J. ; Kemp, Bas ; Soede, Nicoline M. ; Knol, Egbert F. - \ 2018
Frontiers in Genetics 9 (2018)APR. - ISSN 1664-8021
Corpora lutea weight - Embryo - Gilts - Ovulation rate - Precision phenotyping
We investigated (1) the relationship between the estimated breeding values (EBVs) for litter traits at birth and ovulation rate (OR), average corpora luteal weight, uterine length and embryonic survival and development traits in gilts at 35 days of pregnancy by linear regression, (2) the genetic variance of OR, average corpora lutea (CL) weight, uterine length and embryonic survival and development traits at 35 days of pregnancy, and (3) the genetic correlations between these traits. Landrace (n = 86) and Yorkshire × Landrace (n = 304) gilts were inseminated and slaughtered at 35 days of pregnancy. OR was assessed by dissection of the CL on both ovaries. Individual CL was weighed and the average CL weight calculated. The number of embryos (total and vital) were counted and the vital embryos were individually weighed for calculation of within litter average and standard deviation (SD) of the embryo weight. Length of the uterine implantation site of the vital embryos was measured and the average per gilt calculated. Results suggests that increasing the EBV for total number of piglets born would proportionally increase OR and number of embryos, while decreasing the average CL weight. On the contrary, increasing the EBV for average piglet birth weight and for within litter birth weight standard deviation would increase the average CL weight. There was no relationship between the EBVs for BW and for BWSD and vital embryonic weight at 35 days of pregnancy. OR, average CL weight, number of embryos, average weight and implantation length of the vital embryos had all moderate to high heritabilities, ranging from 0.36 (±0.18) to 0.70 (±0.17). Thus, results indicate that there is ample genetic variation in OR, average CL weight and embryonic development traits. This knowledge could be used to optimize the balance between selection for litter size, average piglets birth weight and within litter birth weight uniformity.
The effect of farrowing duration and parity on preovulatory follicular size and oxytocin release of sows at subsequent oestrus
Yun, J. ; Björkman, S. ; Oliviero, C. ; Soede, N.M. ; Peltoniemi, O. - \ 2018
Reproduction in Domestic Animals 53 (2018)3. - ISSN 0936-6768 - p. 776 - 783.
This study examined the extent to which prolonged farrowing and parity are associatedwith plasma oxytocin concentrations and follicular development of oestroussows during subsequent insemination. A total of 30 sows were allocated to twogroups based on farrowing duration: (i) SHORT (n = 14): 159 ± 29 min, (ii) LONG(n = 16): 533 ± 190 min. The sows were also divided into two parity classes: (i)YOUNG (n = 14): parity 2.5 ± 0.8, (ii) OLD (n = 16): parity 6.4 ± 2.3. After weaning,the ovaries were examined daily with transrectal ultrasound. On the second day ofoestrus, blood samples were collected for oxytocin (OT) assay at −15, −10, −5, 0, +1,+2, +3, +4, +6, +8, +10, +15, +20, +25, +30, +40, +50 and +60 min with a boar contactbetween 0 and +10 min. Boar presence stimulated an increase in OT concentrations(p < .05). During boar presence, OT in the LONG group was higher than in the SHORTgroup (p < .01). The sows in the OLD group had a longer farrowing duration than inthe YOUNG group (p < .05). OT levels and diameters of follicles were more relevantfor parity than was the duration of farrowing. We therefore conclude that the OTlevels and follicular development of oestrous sows are associated due to parity butdifficult to be predicted from the duration of previous farrowing.
Relations between ovarian & embryonic traits in pigs : effects of genetic selection for litter traits at birth
Lima Alvares Da Silva, Carolina - \ 2018
University. Promotor(en): Bas Kemp, co-promotor(en): Nicoline Nieuwenhuizen-Soede; E.F. Knol. - Wageningen : Wageningen University - ISBN 9789463438858 - 196
Prolonged parturition and impaired placenta expulsion increase the risk of postpartum metritis and delay uterine involution in sows
Björkman, S. ; Oliviero, C. ; Kauffold, J. ; Soede, N.M. ; Peltoniemi, O. - \ 2018
Theriogenology 106 (2018). - ISSN 0093-691X - p. 87 - 92.
parturition - oxytocin - Retained placentae - Postpartum metritis - Uterine involution
It was hypothesized that prolonged parturition and impaired placenta expulsion increase the risk of postpartum metritis and delay uterine involution. At parturition, for 99 Yorkshire x Large White sows (parity 2–5), we determined the number of liveborn (NLP; 14.8 ± 3.4) and stillborn piglets (NSP; 1.1 ± 1.1), farrowing duration (FAR, time between first and last piglet; 333 ± 249 min), placenta expulsion duration (PLA, time between first and last placental part; 292 ± 241 min) and number of expelled placental parts (PART; 3.0 ± 1.0). FAR was categorized as ‘normal’ (<300 min; n = 44/99) or ‘prolonged’ (>300 min; n = 55/99). The relative PLA (rPLA; (PLA * 100)/FAR; 76 ± 101%) and the relative PART (rPART; (PART * 100)/(NLP + NSP); 22 ± 8%) were calculated and placenta expulsion was categorized as ‘normal’ (rPLA and rPART > 10%; n = 93/99) or ‘impaired’ (relPLA and relPART < 10%; n = 6/99). We also recorded whether manual palpation occurred (Yes/No) and/or oxytocin was used (Yes/No). After parturition, an ultrasound examination of the uterus was performed once for each sow between the 2nd and 7th day postpartum and the uterine size (mean sectional area of three to five uterine cross-sections) and intrauterine fluid accumulation (Yes/No) were recorded. Uterine size was categorized as ‘normal’ (n = 55/99) or ‘enlarged’ (n = 44/99) and used as an indicator of delayed uterine involution. Intrauterine fluid was used as an indicator of metritis. Prolonged FAR (35/54, 2.0 ± 0.5, 13.1, 7.6; n/N, β ± SE, Wald χ2, Odds; P = 0.001), manual palpation (12/17, 1.5 ± 0.7, 4.4, 4.3; P = 0.036), oxytocin administration (18/31, - 1.5 ± 0.7, 4.7, 0.2, P = 0.040) and NSP ≥ 2 (15/21, 1.4 ± 0.7, 3.8, 3.9; P = 0.052) were associated with increased uterine size (n = 44/99) and NSP ≥ 2 (7/21, 2.6 ± 0.9, 8.7, 13.7; P = 0.003), manual palpation (10/17, 1.8 ± 0.8, 5.0, 6.0; P = 0.025), prolonged FAR (13/15, 1.7 ± 0.8, 4.3, 5.7; P = 0.039) and impaired PLA (4/6, 3.3 ± 1.7, 4.0, 26.9; P = 0.044) with intrauterine fluid accumulation (n = 15/99). The results confirm the hypothesis, indicating that prolonged parturition and impaired placenta expulsion increased the risk for postpartum metritis. Stillborn piglets and manual palpation were also identified as risk factors. Postpartum metritis delays uterine involution whereas the use of exogenous oxytocin supports it.
Effects of pre-weaning housing in a multi-suckling system on performance and carbohydrate absorption of relatively light and heavy piglets around weaning
Nieuwamerongen, S.E. van; Bolhuis, J.E. ; Peet-Schwering, C.M.C. van der; Kemp, B. ; Soede, N.M. - \ 2018
Animal 12 (2018)4. - ISSN 1751-7311 - p. 802 - 809.
The low feed intake and stress associated with abrupt weaning in conventional pig farming often result in poor post-weaningperformance, which is related to impaired intestinal function. We investigated effects of housing conditions before weaning onperformance around weaning of relatively light and heavy piglets. Before weaning, piglets were housed either with five sows andtheir litters in a multi-suckling (MS) system or in pens with individually housed sows in farrowing crates (FC). After weaning at4 weeks of age (day 0), 16 groups of four piglets (two light and two heavy litter-mates) were housed under equal conditions inenriched pens. Mannitol (day −5 and day 5) and galactose (day 5) were orally administered as markers for gastrointestinalcarbohydrate absorption, and after 20 min a blood sample was taken (sugar absorption test). In addition, BW, feed intake andfaecal consistency as an indicator for diarrhoea, were assessed frequently during 2 weeks post-weaning. Pre-weaning housing,weight class and their interaction did not affect post-weaning faecal consistency scores. Weight gain over 2 weeks did not differbetween pre-weaning housing treatments, but MS piglets gained more (0.67 ± 0.12 kg) than FC piglets (0.39 ± 0.16 kg) betweendays 2 and 5 post-weaning, P=0.02), particularly in the ‘heavy’ weight class (interaction, P=0.04), whereas feed intake wassimilar for both treatments. This indicates a better utilisation of the ingested feed of the MS piglets compared with the FC pigletsin the early post-weaning period. Pre-weaning mannitol concentrations were unaffected by pre-weaning housing, weight class andtheir interaction. On day 5 post-weaning, however, MS piglets had a lower plasma concentration of mannitol (320 v. 592 nmol/ml,SEM =132, P=0.04) and galactose (91 v. 157 nmol/ml, SEM =20, P=0.04) than FC piglets, regardless of weight class. Inconclusion, MS and FC piglets differed in aspects of post-weaning gastrointestinal carbohydrate absorption and in weight gainbetween days 2 and 5 after weaning, but pre-weaning housing did not affect feed intake, weight gain and measures of faecalconsistency over the first 2 weeks after weaning.
Follicular development of weaned sows in relation to estimated breeding value for within-litter variation in piglet birth weight
Costermans, N.G.J. ; Knol, E.F. ; Kemp, B. ; Keijer, J. ; Soede, N.M. ; Teerds, K.J. - \ 2017
Validation of transrectal ultrasonography for assessment of corpora lutea characteristics in pregnant sows and its relationship with litter characteristics at birth
Lima Alvares da Silva, Carolina ; Laurenssen, B.F.A. ; Knol, E.F. ; Kemp, B. ; Soede, N.M. - \ 2017
Translational Animal Science 1 (2017)4. - p. 507 - 517.
corpora lutea - piglet birth weight - pregnancy - sows - transrectal ultrasonography
In experiment 1 we investigated the accuracy of transrectal ultrasonography (TUS) to assess the number (OR) and diameter of corpora lutea (CL) in 45 and 25 sows, respectively, at 23.4 ± 2.9 d of pregnancy. The diameter was calculated as the average diameter of 10 biggest CL. Sows were subsequently slaughtered and OR was assessed by dissection of CL from both ovaries (n = 45) and average diameter of the 10 biggest CL was also calculated after measurement of CL with the caliper rule (n = 25). There was a weak relationship between OR counted after dissection of the ovaries and OR counted with TUS (β = 0.28 ± 0.01 CL/CL, P = 0.01), but there was a strong relationship between the average CL diameter measured with the caliper rule after dissection and the average CL diameter based on TUS (β = 1.0 ± 0.1 mm/mm, P < 0.0001). This shows that TUS is not a valid method to assess OR in pregnant sows but it is a valid method to assess average CL diameter. In experiment 2, we investigated the relationship between the average CL diameter assessed by TUS (n = 100) at 23.8 ± 2.4 d of pregnancy and average piglet birth weight (BW) and observed an increase of 37.6 ± 17.8 g in piglet BW per mm increase in average CL diameter measured by TUS (P = 0.04). This relationship is probably because larger CL develop from bigger follicles at ovulation, which might have ovulated oocytes of higher quality that developed into embryos with higher growth potential and thus higher birth weight.
Relation Between Ovulation Rate and Embryonic Survival and Development in Crossbred Gilts at 35 days of Pregnancy
Lima Alvares da Silva, Carolina ; Broekhuijse, M.L.W.J. ; Laurenssen, B.F.A. ; Knol, E.F. ; Kemp, B. ; Soede, N.M. - \ 2017
In: 10th International Conference on Pig Reproduction: program and abstract book. - Columbia : University of Missouri-Columbia - p. 56 - 57.
In modern crossbred multiparous sows,an increase in ovulation rate (OR) isrelated witharelatively small increase in the number of vital embryos at 35 days ofpregnancy, which is mainly due to anincrease in early embryonic mortality (Da Silva et al.,2016). Earlyembryonic mortality,i.e. mortality before uterine implantation at 13 days of pregnancy,increaseswith the increase inOR probablydue to an increase inheterogeneity in the pool of ovulatory follicles and oocytes, increasing also embryonic heterogeneityand thereby embryonic mortality at the time of implantation(Popeet al, 1986; Geisert et al., 1982). Anincrease in OR was also related with adecrease in implantation and placental length ofthe vital embryos in multiparous sows at 35 days of pregnancy (Da Silva et al., 2016), indicating uterine crowdingalready at this stage of pregnancy.This might subsequently lead toahigherfoetalmortality, but might also compromisefoetalgrowth, leading to lower piglet birth weight and birth weight uniformity; associated withahigherpiglet mortality after birth (Milligan et al., 2002). Giltshave a lower OR (Belstra, 2003), which could imply different relationshipsbetween OR and embryonic survival and development. Thus, crossbred gilts available from aninsemination trialwith semen stored for different durationswere slaughtered at 35 daysof pregnancy andthe relationship between OR and embryonic survival and development was investigated.
Follicular development of weaned sows in relation to estimated breeding value for within-litter variation in piglet birth weight
Costermans, N.G.J. ; Knol, E.F. ; Kemp, B. ; Keijer, J. ; Soede, N.M. ; Teerds, K.J. - \ 2017
Increase in backfat reduces the thickness of the uterus prepartum
Björkman, S. ; Oliviero, C. ; Soede, N.M. ; Peltoniemi, O. - \ 2017
High backfat values and large litter size can increase the farrowing duration of sows. Both are believed to interfere withinitiation of farrowing(about 24-36 hours before birth of the first piglet)and/or the expulsion of the piglets.It has been discussed if there might be,in sows with high backfat values,a prolonged decline of progesterone before farrowing, therefore delaying subsequent hormonal changes necessary for farrowing,orincreased adipose tissue around the birth canal, thereby reducing the diameter of the birth canal. The aim of the study was to investigate if litter size or backfat may already exert a negative effect on the uterus before initiation of farrowing which may explain the subsequent prolonged farrowing. It is known from other species, e.g., cattle and dog, that fatty infiltration or overstretching of the uterus due to large litter can impair the expulsive force and therefore cause dystocia and prolonged parturition. Thus, the hypothesis is that increased backfat and litter size negatively correlate with prepartum uterine thickness, representing stretching of the uterus.
Follicular development of weaned sows in relation to estimated breeding value for within-litter variation in piglet birth weight
Costermans, N.G.J. ; Knol, E.F. ; Kemp, B. ; Keijer, J. ; Soede, N.M. ; Teerds, K.J. - \ 2017
Over the last decades, pigs have been genetically selected to produce larger litters. Large litters are related to decreased piglet birth weights (Quiniou et al., 2002, Livest. Prod. Sci. 78)and increased within-litter variation in piglet birth weight (Quesnel et al., 2008, Animal 2:12)leading to a higher piglet mortality (Milligan et al., 2002, Prev. Vet. Med. 56:2).
The aim of this study was to identify possible causes of within-litter variation in piglet birth weight by studying follicular development of sows afterweaningin relation to their estimated breeding value (EBV) for within-litter variation in piglet birth weight.
Lactation estrus and subsequent fertility in group housed lactating sows
Soede, N.M. ; Nieuwamerongen, S.E. van; Laurenssen, B.F.A. ; Bolhuis, J.E. ; Peet-Schwering, C.M.C. van der; Kemp, B. - \ 2017
NetherlandsOne way to improve post-weaning piglet welfare, is to prolong the lactation period. However, as sows are normally anestrus during lactation, a prolonged lactation will result in a reduction in the number of piglets produced per sow per year. It is possible to induce a fertile estrus during lactation using an intermittent suckling strategy (IS). This is a management strategy inwhich the daily suckling frequency is reduced by limiting the time sows and piglets spend together. This study evaluated effects of IS in the 5th week of a 6-week (batch 1-4) or 9-week (batch 5-9) lactation period on reproductive performance of group-housed lactating sows. Per batch, 4-5 multiparous sows were housed in a multi-suckling system. IS started after four weeks of lactation (= IS-Day 0) and sows were separated from their piglets 10 hours per day for 7 days. During separation, sows were housed inan adjacent IS-area, where a boar was present in a boar pen. In the IS-area, the back-pressure test was applied to sowstwice a day in presence of the boar to detect estrus.Sows were inseminated daily during standing estrus.After week 5, sows had voluntary access to the IS area 24 hours per day. At IS-Day 0 and IS-Day 5, transrectal ultrasound was used to assess ovarian status and to measure the 5 largest follicles per ovary. A pregnancy check was performed 4 weeks after insemination. In total, 34out of 44sows (77%)came in estrus at 5.2±1.5(3-9) days after onset of IS. One additional sow came in estrus in week 7 of lactation. In total33of the 34sows that showed estrus during IS ovulated(97%). Ovulating sows of Batch 1-8 had an 89% (25/28) farrowing rate and a subsequent litter size of18.1±3.3.The sows of Batch 1-8that came in estrus during IS had a larger follicle size at IS-Day 0 (3.6±0.4 vs 3.2±0.4 mm, P=0.01) and at IS-Day 5 (6.2±0.8 vs 5.3±0.9 mm, P=0.01) than sows that did not show estrus. They also had more backfat at IS-Day 0 (14.2±2.9 vs 11.5±3.0 mm, P=0.01); 90% of the 21 sows with a backfat >12.5mm came in estrus compared to 50% of the 18 sows with lower backfat. There was no difference in sow parity (3.2±1.6), sow weight at IS-Day 0 (222±30kg) or litter size at IS-Day 0 (11.6±1.7) between sows that did and did not come in estrus during IS. In conclusion, IS can be a good method to induce lactation estrus and pregnancy in group-housed lactating sows, resulting in good litter size. Sows should be in a good body condition at onset of IS to increase the chance of estrus induction. These findings are a promising step for the further development of systems with longer lactation periods while safeguarding the number of piglets produced per sow per year.
Relationship between ovulation rate and embryonic characteristics in gilts at 35 d of pregnancy
Lima Alvares da Silva, Carolina ; Broekhuijse, M.L.W.J. ; Laurenssen, B.F.A. ; Mulder, H.A. ; Knol, Edward F. ; Kemp, B. ; Soede, N.M. - \ 2017
Journal of Animal Science 95 (2017)7. - ISSN 0021-8812 - p. 3160 - 3172.
Embryonic mortality - Embryonic weight - Gilts - Ovulation rate
This study investigated the relationship between ovulation rate (OR) and embryonic characteristics in gilts. Landrace (n = 86) and Yorkshire x Landrace (n = 212) gilts were inseminated with semen stored for 3 to 5 d (SS1, n = 59), 6 to7 d (SS2, n = 133), or 8 to 10 d (SS3, n = 106), and slaughtered at 35 d of pregnancy. Ovulation rate was assessed by dissection of the corpora lutea on both ovaries. Embryos were classified as vital (VE) by visual appearance and individually weighed (VEg) and the SD of the weight calculated (SDVEg). Early embryonic mortality (EM) was estimated as the difference between OR and the number of vital plus nonvital embryos. Embryonic characteristics were analyzed with a model that included linear and quadratic terms of OR and fixed class effects of semen storage duration (SS) and genetic line (GL). Landrace gilts had a higher OR than Yorkshire x Landrace gilts (22.1 ± 0.4 vs. 20.3 ± 0.2, P ≤ 0.05) and also a higher EM (6.1 ± 0.4 vs. 3.5 ± 0.3, P ≤ 0.05). EM was also higher in gilts inseminated with semen stored for more than 8 d. Also, Yorkshire x Landrace gilts had a higher number of VE (16.9 ± 0.7) than the Landrace gilts (13.3 ± 0.8) when inseminations were done with semen stored for up to 5 d. Yorkshire x Landrace gilts had the highest VEg when inseminated with semen stored for 3 to 5 d (SS1: 4.9 ± 0.2 g, SS2: 4.1 ± 0.1 g, and SS3: 4.0 ± 0.2 g; P ≤ 0.05). VE and VEg did not differ within Landrace gilts between different SS classes. A quadratic relationship of OR (P ≤ 0.05) was found with VE: a maximum of 16.8 VE was observed at 26 ovulations [(2.5 (± 0.6)*OR- 0.05 (± 0.01)*OR2]. A quadratic relationship of OR (P ≤ 0.05) was also found for EM: a minimum of 3.33 EM was observed at 15 ovulations [(−1.1 (± 0.6)*OR −0.03 (± 0.01)*OR2]. VEg was not related with OR, but SDVEg had a positive linear relationship with OR [0.01 (± 0.003)*OR, P ≤ 0.05]. Results show that Yorkshire x Landrace gilts perform better than Landrace when inseminated with fresh semen, but not with semen stored for longer time. Also, the VE increases with an increase in OR up to 26, but at a lower level at higher OR, which is likely related with the increase in EM. The higher EM at higher OR might arise from a higher variation in follicular/oocyte quality leading to a higher variation in embryonic quality and development, increasing mortality before uterine implantation and the variation in embryonic weight already at 35 d of pregnancy.
Post-weaning social and cognitive performance of piglets raised pre-weaning either in a complex multi-suckling group housing system or in a conventional system with a crated sow
Nieuwamerongen, S.E. van; Mendl, M. ; Held, S. ; Soede, N.M. ; Bolhuis, J.E. - \ 2017
Animal Cognition 20 (2017)5. - ISSN 1435-9448 - p. 907 - 921.
Cognitive development - Group housing - Informed forager test - Multi-suckling system - Pigs - Social development
We studied the social and cognitive performance of piglets raised pre-weaning either in a conventional system with a sow in a farrowing crate (FC) or in a multi-suckling (MS) system in which 5 sows and their piglets could interact in a more physically enriched and spacious environment. After weaning at 4 weeks of age, 8 groups of 4 litter-mates per pre-weaning housing treatment were studied under equal and enriched post-weaning housing conditions. From each pen, one pair consisting of a dominant and a submissive pig was selected, based on a feed competition test (FCT) 2 weeks post-weaning. This pair was used in an informed forager test (IFT) which measured aspects of spatial learning and foraging strategies in a competitive context. During individual training, submissive (informed) pigs learned to remember a bait location in a testing arena with 8 buckets (the same bucket was baited in a search visit and a subsequent relocation visit), whereas dominant (non-informed) pigs always found the bait in a random bucket (search visits only). After learning their task, the informed pigs’ individual search visit was followed by a pairwise relocation visit in which they were accompanied by the non-informed pig. Effects of pre-weaning housing treatment were not distinctly present regarding the occurrence of aggression in the FCT and the learning performance during individual training in the IFT. During paired visits, informed and non-informed pigs changed their behaviour in response to being tested pairwise instead of individually, but MS and FC pigs showed few distinct behavioural differences.
Relationships between uterine health and metabolism in dairy cows with different dry period lengths
Chen, J. ; Soede, N.M. ; Remmelink, G.J. ; Bruckmaier, R.M. ; Kemp, B. ; Knegsel, A.T.M. van - \ 2017
Theriogenology 101 (2017). - ISSN 0093-691X - p. 8 - 14.
Continuous milking - Glucogenic nutrient - Lipogenic nutrient - Progesterone - Uterine health

The first objective of this study was to evaluate effects of dry period (DP) length and dietary energy source on ovarian activity, uterine health status, pregnancy rate, and days open in dairy cows in the second subsequent lactation after implementation of DP length and dietary treatments. The second objective was to determine relationships of uterine health status with ovarian activity, milk yield, energy balance (EB), and metabolic status in dairy cows. Holstein-Friesian dairy cows (n = 167) were assigned randomly to 1 of 3 DP lengths (0-, 30-, or 60-d) and 1 of 2 early lactation diets (glucogenic or lipogenic diet) for 2 subsequent lactations. Milk samples were collected three times a week. At least two succeeding milk samples with concentration of progesterone ≥2 ng/mL were used to indicate the occurrence of luteal activity. Vaginal discharge was scored in wk 2 and 3 after calving to evaluate uterine health status and cows were classified as having a healthy uterine environment [HU, vaginal discharge score (VDS) = 0 or 1 in both wk 2 and 3], a recovering uterine environment (RU, VDS = 2 or 3 in wk 2 and VDS = 0 or 1 in wk 3), or a non-recovering uterine environment (NRU, VDS = 2 or 3 in wk 3). Cows were monitored for milk yield, dry matter intake (DMI), and blood was sampled weekly to determine metabolic status from calving to wk 3 postcalving. Dry period length was not related with uterine health status in early lactation, pregnancy rate, or days open in dairy cows. Independent of DP length, feeding a glucogenic diet shortened the interval from calving to onset of luteal activity (25.3 vs. 31.0 d, P = 0.04), but decreased pregnancy rate compared with a more lipogenic diet (68.2 vs. 78.1 d, P = 0.03). In the first 3 wk after calving, cows with a NRU had lower milk yield (36.8 vs. 36.8 vs. 32.4 kg for cows with a HU, RU, or NRU, respectively; P < 0.01) and lower DMI than cows with a HU or RU. Cows with a RU had lower plasma glucose and insulin concentrations than cows with a NRU or HU. In conclusion, DP length did not influence fertility measures and uterine health status in the second subsequent lactation after implementation of DP length treatments. Independent of DP length, feeding a glucogenic diet leaded to earlier ovulation postcalving, but decreased pregnancy rate compared with a more lipogenic diet. In addition, a healthy uterine environment was related to greater milk yield and better metabolic status, independent of DP length.

Gradual weaning during an extended lactation period improves performance and behavior of pigs raised in a multi-suckling system
Nieuwamerongen, S.E. van; Soede, N.M. ; Peet-Schwering, C.M.C. van der; Kemp, B. ; Bolhuis, J.E. - \ 2017
Applied Animal Behaviour Science 194 (2017). - ISSN 0168-1591 - p. 24 - 35.
Multi-suckling system - get-away system - intermittent-suckling - gradual weaning - behavior - pigs
We studied effects of two weaning procedures on the development of pigs raised in a multi-suckling (MS) system with five sows and their litters. One MS group was subjected to a gradual weaning treatment during a lactation period of 9 wk, which included forced intermittent-suckling (IS) for 10 h/d during the fifth wk of lactation, followed by a 4-wk period in which sows could voluntarily get away from their piglets (IS9 treatment). The other MS group was weaned abruptly at 4 wk of age and was subsequently housed in a nursery (A4 treatment). At 9 wk of age, pigs from both treatments were relocated to a finishing unit, where they were housed in a group of max. 35 pigs per treatment. Five consecutive batches of 10 sows and their litters were studied. Weaning had a more profound impact for the A4 pigs than IS and sow-initiated separation did for the IS9 pigs, demonstrated by a lower weight gain between d 27–33 (0.90 ± 0.08 vs. 1.51 ± 0.06 kg/pig, F1,4 = 25.23, p < 0.01), indications of a higher diarrhea occurrence, a distinct peak in belly-nosing behavior and numerically higher levels of aggression and damaging oral manipulation between wk 4–9. For IS9 pigs, weaning seemed to have less impact; feed intake after transition to the finishing unit was similar in both treatments, indicating that IS9 pigs had a more successful transition to a diet of only solid feed, and IS9 pigs showed no growth check, nor behavioral indicators of having difficulty coping with the post-weaning situation. The extended weaning process likely gradually prepared the gastro-intestinal tract to process solid feed, which may explain the better performance of the IS9 pigs. Additionally, benefits of the gradual weaning treatment were reflected in behavioral differences over the entire experiment; between 4–18 wk of age, IS9 pigs overall showed less belly-nosing, less damaging oral manipulation and had fewer lesions related with manipulation and aggression than A4 pigs. This may altogether indicate a less stressed state of the IS9 pigs. To conclude, IS9 pigs coped better with both transitions than A4 pigs did and the gradual weaning treatment had long-term beneficial effects, particularly concerning behavior. Therefore, gradual weaning in a multi-suckling system seems promising for improving piglet performance, behavior and welfare.
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