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The effect of different postweaning altrenogest treatments of primiparous sows on follicular development, pregnancy rates, and litter sizes
- van Leeuwen, J.J.J., Williams, S.I., Martens, M.R.T.M., Jourquin, J., Driancourt, M.A., Kemp, B., Soede, N.M.
- Journal of animal science 2011 v.89 no.2 pp. 397-403
- farrowing rate, follicular development, piglets, pregnancy, reproductive performance, sows, weaning
- This study investigated follicular development during and after postweaning altrenogest treatment of primiparous sows in relation to subsequent reproductive performance. Primiparous sows (n = 259) were randomly assigned at weaning (d 0) to 1 of 4 groups: control (no altrenogest, n = 71), RU4 (20 mg of altrenogest from d -1 to 2, n = 62), RU8 (20 mg of altrenogest from d -1 to 6, n = 65), or RU15 (20 mg of altrenogest from d -1 to 13, n = 61). Average follicular size (measured by ultrasound) increased during altrenogest treatment and resulted in larger follicles at the start of the follicular phase for RU4, RU8, and RU15 compared with controls (5.3 ± 0.9, 5.5 ± 1.3, 5.1 ± 1.2, and 3.4 ± 0.6 mm, respectively; P < 0.0001). Farrowing rate was greater in RU15 (95%) than in RU8 (76%; P = 0.04). The RU15 group also had more piglets (2 to 3 more piglets total born and born alive; P < 0.05) than the other treatment groups. Follicular development at weaning clearly affected reproductive performance. At weaning, average follicular size: small (<3.5 mm), medium (3.5 to 4.5 mm), or large (≥4.5 mm), was associated with farrowing rates of 86, 78, and 48%, respectively (P < 0.001). Sows with large follicles at weaning had low farrowing rates (71%) in RU4, very low farrowing rates (22%) in RU8, but normal farrowing rates in RU15 (83%). In conclusion, this study showed that 15 d of postweaning altrenogest treatment of primiparous sows may allow follicle turnover in sows that had large follicles at weaning and that this was associated with an improved reproductive performance. It also showed that shorter treatment with altrenogest (4 or 8 d) is beneficial for sows with small follicles at weaning, but is not recommendable for sows with large follicles at weaning.