Responses to maternal GH or ractopamine during early-mid pregnancy are similar in primiparous and multiparous pregnant pigs

Kathryn L. Gatford, Miles J. De Blasio, Claire T. Roberts, Mark B. Nottle, Karen L. Kind, William H.E.J. Van Wettere, Robert J. Smits, Julie A. Owens

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18 Citations (Scopus)


Fetal growth is restricted in primiparous pigs (gilts) compared with dams who have had previous pregnancies (sows), as in other species. In gilts, daily maternal porcine GH (pGH) injections from day 25 to 50 of pregnancy (term ∼115 day) increase fetal growth and progeny muscularity, and responses in sows are unknown. Whether feeding the β2-adrenergic agonist ractopamine during this period increases progeny growth rates in either parity and fetal responses in gilts, have not been investigated. We hypothesised that fetal and placental growth and fetal muscle development would be increased more by maternal pGH and/or ractopamine during early-mid pregnancy in gilts than sows, since fetal growth is restricted in gilts causing lower birth weights. Large White X Landrace gilts and sows were injected daily with water (controls) or pGH (∼15 μg/kg per day), or were fed 20 ppm ractopamine, between day 25 and 50 of pregnancy. Maternal pGH increased litter average fetal weight (11%, P=0.007) and length (3%, P=0.022), but not placental weight, at day 50 of pregnancy, irrespective of parity, and had the greatest effects in the heaviest fetuses of each litter. Maternal ractopamine increased average fetal weight (9%, P=0.018), but not length. Muscle fiber diameter was increased by pGH in heavy littermates and by ractopamine in median littermates. Similar fetal growth responses to pGH and ractopamine in gilts and sows suggest that these hormones increase fetal nutrient availability similarly in both parities. We therefore predict that sustained pGH treatment will increase progeny birth weight, postnatal growth and survival, in both sows and gilts.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)143-154
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Endocrinology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2009
Externally publishedYes

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