Interpretive Summary: A comparison of the anatomical and gastrointestinal functional development between gilt and sow progeny around birth and weaning
By Anne Zinn
An Australian research team recently compared the differences in growth and development between gilt and sow progeny, hypothesizing that gilt progeny would have slower rates of growth, reduced anatomical development of several organs, and delays in early functional development of the gastrointestinal tract. Historically, gilt progeny often have restricted growth performance and health status in comparison to sow progeny from birth. Still, the underlying mechanisms responsible for this have yet to be fully understood. Therefore, this study examined anatomical and gastrointestinal tract functional development of gilt and sow progeny in the first 24 hours after birth and during the periweaning period.
The results of this study suggest that the development of several organs in late gestation, specifically those of the gastrointestinal tract and the skeletal muscle, may be compromised in gilt progeny as compared to sow progeny, starting with differences at birth and persisting through waning. These findings confirm that gilt progeny are born and waned lighter than sow progeny and continue to suggest that gilt progeny suffer poor acquisition of maternal immunity and delays in the development of the gastrointestinal tract and skeletal muscle in utero, soon after birth, and around weaning. Additionally, the findings allow a further understanding of the underlying mechanisms causing these differences. These differences are linked to factors such as inferior colostrum and milk production, intake and composition, and differences in the ability to digest and absorb specific components of colostrum and milk in the gastrointestinal tract.
Further investigation of the physiological differences between gilt and sow progeny is required to identify the best way to manage gilt progeny and maximize their performance. It may be beneficial to focus management strategies towards the growth of gilt progeny in lactation, as well as to improve fetal development of gilt progeny in late gestation.
The full paper can be found in the July 2019 edition of the Journal of Animal Science and online here.