Early Embryo Survival and Development in Sows with Lactational Ovulation

R. Gerritsen, N.M. Soede, P. Langendijk, M.A.M. Taverne, B. Kemp

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15 Citations (Scopus)


During lactation, daily separation of sow and piglets, intermittent suckling (IS), can induce lactational oestrus and ovulation. This study examined effects of IS on subsequent early embryo survival and development. Multiparous Topigs40 sows were separated from their piglets for either 12 consecutive hours per day (IS12, n = 13) or two times for 6 h per day (IS6, n = 10) from day 14 of lactation onwards until 23 days after ovulation. Control sows (C, n = 17) were weaned at day 21 of lactation. Oestrus was shown in all treatments within 5 days after the start of treatment. Sows were inseminated each day of oestrus and slaughtered at D23 after ovulation. Intermittent suckling did not significantly affect pregnancy rates of sows (75% IS12 vs 78% IS6 vs 94% C; p > 0.10). Embryo survival was not significantly affected by IS (IS12: 57%; IS6: 51%; p > 0.10) although it seemed to be lower than in C sows (70%). Some parameters of embryo, placental and uterine development were affected by IS, especially in the IS6 group. IS6 embryos had shorter placentas (17.5 ± 1.2 cm; p <0.05) than C (20.3 ± 1.4 cm) and IS12 sows (20.9 ± 0.7 cm) were smaller and less developed than C sows (p <0.05). In conclusion, embryo survival does not seem significantly affected by IS, although numerical differences were great. Embryo development, however, was negatively affected in IS6 sows possibly due to a combination of high milk production, stress and lactational effects on uterine development.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)59-65
JournalReproduction in Domestic Animals
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2008


  • reproductive-performance
  • luteinizing-hormone
  • primiparous sows
  • progesterone
  • pigs
  • estradiol-17-beta
  • prolactin
  • nutrition
  • pregnancy
  • profiles


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