Intermittent suckling enables estrus and pregnancy during lactation in sows: Effects of stage of lactation and lactation during early pregnancy

R. Gerritsen, N.M. Soede, W. Hazeleger, P. Langendijk, S.J. Dieleman, M.A.M. Taverne, B. Kemp

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13 Citations (Scopus)


Previously we demonstrated that pre-ovulatory LH and post-ovulatory progesterone (P4) concentrations in plasma were low and embryo development was retarded when sows were induced to ovulate during lactation by submitting them to intermittent suckling (IS). The present study investigated whether this was due to: (1) stage of lactation when IS was initiated, and (2) continuation of IS post-ovulation. Multiparous Topigs40 sows were studied under three conditions: conventional weaning at Day 21 of lactation (C21; n = 30), intermittent Suckling from Day 14 of lactation (IS 14; it = 32), and intermittent suckling from Day 21 of lactation (IS21; It = 33). Sows were separated from piglets for 12 h daily during IS. IS sows were either weaned at ovulation or 20 d following ovulation. One-third (21/63) of the IS21 and C21 sows had already ovulated or had large pre-ovulatory follicles at Day 21 and were excluded from further study. Initiation of IS at Day 14 instead of Day 21 of lactation tended to reduce P4 at 7 d post-ovulation (P = 0.07), did not affect pregnancy rate, and tended to reduce embryo survival (P = 0.06). Continuation of IS during pregnancy resulted in lower P4 at 7 and 12 d post-ovulation. tended to reduce embryo weight and pregnancy rate (P <0.10), whereas embryo survival was not affected. This study presents data for a population of sows in which follicle growth and ovulation are easily triggered under suckling conditions. Further, when these sows are bred during lactation, initiation of IS at 21 rather than 14 d of lactation with weaning at ovulation yields the most desirable reproductive performance. (C) 2009 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)432-440
Number of pages9
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2009


  • luteinizing-hormone
  • extended lactation
  • reproductive tract
  • primiparous sows
  • ovulation rate
  • progesterone
  • prolactin
  • gilts
  • pigs
  • lh

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