Performance of male pigs immunized against GnRH is related to the time of onset of biological response

J.A. Turkstra, J.T.M. van Diepen, A.W. Jongbloed, H.B. Oonk, D.F.M. van de Wiel, R.H. Meloen

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    In this study, the performance of male pigs immunized against GnRH was determined in relation to the onset of their biological response to the immunization. Pigs were immunized at 9 and 17 wk of age and were housed in a pen together with both a surgically castrated and an intact boar littermate. Feed intake was restricted to 2.8 to 3.2 times maintenance requirement for energy. Animals were weighed weekly and slaughtered at 108 kg BW. Depending on the time of onset of the response after immunization in terms of biological effects, immunized pigs were retrospectively grouped into two categories. One category consisted of the immunized pigs, which had undetectable or low levels of LH and testosterone at the time of booster immunization—known as "early" responding immunocastrates (E-IM, n = 8), whereas the "late" responding immunocastrates (L-IM, n = 7) had substantial LH and testosterone levels at that time. This dichotomy of the response to immunization also was reflected in testis weight, with 17 g and 40 g for E-IM and L-IM pigs, respectively. At slaughter, testis size and weight were reduced (P < 0.001) in the immunocastrated pigs as compared to the intact boars. Androstenone concentrations in backfat of all immunocastrated pigs were undetectable. Growth performance (i.e., ADG and feed efficiency [FE, g gain/kg feed]), was better in boars and L-IM pigs than in surgical castrates and E-IM pigs (P < 0.05). Average daily gain and FE did not differ between E-IM pigs and the surgical castrates, but intact boars performed better than L-IM (P < 0.02). There were no significant differences in carcass quality (backfat thickness and meat percentage) between boars and surgical castrates at slaughter. However, for both characteristics L-IM pigs and intact boars performed better (P < 0.03) than E-IM pigs. Thus, growth performance in L-IM is better than in either E-IM or surgical castrates.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalJournal of Animal Science
    Publication statusPublished - 2002

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