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The relationship of plasma urea nitrogen with growth traits and age at first estrus in gilts

Lents, C. A., Rempel, L. A., Klindt, J., Wise, T., Nonneman, D., Freking, B. A.
Journal of animal science 2013 v.91 no.7 pp. 3137
albumins, animal age, animal development, animal tissues, backfat, blood plasma, body fat, body weight, breeding, chemical concentration, creatinine, estrus, genetic correlation, gilts, glucose, growth traits, nutrient use efficiency, phenotype, phenotypic correlation, puberty, urea nitrogen
Gilts that reach puberty at an earlier age with more backfat have greater lifetime productivity. Increased growth rates generally promote earlier age at first estrus; however, an association of age at first estrus with discrete measures of body fatness remains controversial. We tested the hypothesis that metabolic state as determined by concentrations of plasma urea nitrogen (PUN), which reflect lean tissue growth, were correlated with age at first estrus. Blood samples were collected from gilts (n = 337) at 102, 123, and 145 d of age during development. Concentrations of albumin, creatinine, glucose, and PUN were determined. Body weight and backfat thickness were determined at each time point. From 130 to 240 d of age, gilts were monitored for first pubertal estrus. Concentrations of creatinine increased whereas concentrations of glucose decreased with increasing age (P < 0.0001). Concentrations of albumin and PUN remained relatively stable throughout development. Average daily BW gain (r = 0.22) and change in backfat thickness (r = 0.29) had a positive phenotypic correlation (P < 0.0001) with PUN at 145 d of age. Concentrations of PUN at 102 and 123 d of age were not phenotypically correlated with pubertal age, but there was a moderately negative phenotypic correlation (r = –0.22; P < 0.0001) of PUN at 145 d of age with age at first estrus along with a negative genetic correlation (r = –0.42). The relationship of PUN with age at first estrus shifted from liner to quadratic with advancing age. These data demonstrate that near the age at which gilts are selected for entry into the breeding unit, those with greater PUN have increased BW and backfat thickness and display pubertal estrus earlier but that PUN does not account for additional variation in age at first estrus beyond growth rate or backfat. It is concluded that PUN can be used to select gilts with increased efficiency of nutrient use without negatively impacting pubertal development.