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Effects of maternal dietary nitrate supplementation on farrowing and placental characteristics, level of asphyxiation at birth and piglet vitality

van den Bosch, M., Wijnen, J., van de Linde, I.B., van Wesel, A.A.M., Melchior, D., Kemp, B., van den Brand, H., Clouard, C.
Theriogenology 2019 v.129 pp. 1-7
Dutch Landrace, asphyxia, bicarbonates, blood, blood flow, carbon dioxide, color, crossbreds, diet, exercise, farrowing, fetal death, lactic acid, mortality, nitrates, nitric oxide, oxygen, pH, piglets, placenta, probability, sows, umbilical cord, vasodilation
We investigated whether maternal dietary nitrate supplementation, leading to nitric oxide (NO) formation, would affect duration of farrowing, levels of asphyxiation, vitality of piglets at birth and/or loss of potential viable piglets in the form of stillbirth and pre-weaning mortality. Data were collected from 190 crossbred (Yorkshire x Dutch Landrace) sows, which were allocated, balanced for parity, to six dietary nitrate levels (0, 0.03, 0.06, 0.09, 0.12 or 0.15% of nitrate). Sow received the lactational diet containing nitrate from approximately 7 days before farrowing until 5 days after farrowing. Blood acid-base parameters (pH, pO2, pCO2, BEecf, HCO3, sO2 and lactate) and nitrate concentration were determined in umbilical cord blood. The farrowing process was video recorded and later analysed for total duration of farrowing, piglet birth interval, piglet vitality was scored and piglet latency to stand right after birth. Placentas were collected after expulsion during and after farrowing. Placenta length and width were measured and placental color scores were assessed based on redness of the placenta. The probability of a higher vitality score of piglets (being more vital) linearly increased with increasing levels of maternal dietary nitrate. This higher vitality score however, was not reflected by changes in the blood acid-base parameters in umbilical cord blood, except for a tendency for a higher pO2 with increasing levels of nitrate, which could have been caused by a quicker onset of respiration or an increased blood flow to the piglets during birth. Placenta width increased with increasing levels of maternal dietary nitrate, but no effect on placenta length and redness was found. Neither duration of farrowing nor birth interval were affected by maternal dietary nitrate level. In conclusion, maternal nitrate supplementation may affect piglet vitality via vasodilatation (placental characteristics) rather than an increase in exercise efficiency (duration of farrowing).