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The effect of oestrous cycle number, at constant age, on gilt reproduction in a dynamic service system

Lookup NU author(s): Emerita Professor Sandra Edwards


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Previous studies examining the effect of age on gilt reproduction have generally failed to discriminate between chronological (i.e. days) and physiological age (i.e. number of oestrous cycles experienced) and the importance of each factor remains unclear in the pig. The present investigation tested the hypothesis that the physiological age at which gilts are bred in a dynamic service system (DSS) affects their reproductive behaviour and performance. A hundred and ninety gilts were randomly allocated between two treatments. They were introduced into the service pens of a DSS to be bred at the same age (215 days) but either at second (2H; no. = 96) or third (3H; no. = 94) post-pubertal heat period. The sexual behaviour of half of them was continuously recorded over a 13-week period and reproductive data from all the gilts were collected. Gilts of 2H treatment were significantly heavier at entry into the service pens (123 v. 119 kg; P < 0·05) than 3H gilts, but there was no significant difference in their backfat thickness. Treatment failed to affect the quality and frequency of mating attempts (MAs) gilts received or oestrus duration. Conception rate to first oestrus in the DSS (82%) was not affected by treatment. Litter size and number of piglets born alive was similar for 3H and 2H gilts (12·0 v. 11·7, s.e.d. 0·40 and 11·5 v. 11·0, s.e.d. 0·4 respectively; all P > 0·05). It is concluded that the reproductive behaviour and performance of gilts that had experienced either two or three oestrous cycles prior to mating at a constant age does not differ significantly in a DSS. More studies are needed in order to clarify the possible interactive influence of repeated and frequent services, which are common in a DSS, on gilt reproduction.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Edwards SA; Grigoriadis DF; English PR; Davidson F

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Animal Science

Year: 2001

Volume: 72

Issue: 1

Pages: 11-17

ISSN (print): 1357-7298

ISSN (electronic): 1748-748X

Publisher: Cambridge University Press