Relationships between ovulation rate and embryonic and placental characteristics in multiparous sows at 35 days of pregnancy

C.L. Da Silva, H. van den Brand, B.F.A. Laurenssen, M.L.W.J. Broekhuijse, E.F. Knol, B. Kemp, N.M. Soede

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23 Citations (Scopus)


The objective of this study was to investigate relationships between ovulation rate (OR) and embryonic and placental development in sows. Topigs Norsvin® sows (n=91, parity 2 to 17) from three different genetic backgrounds were slaughtered at 35 days of pregnancy and the reproductive tract was collected. The corpora lutea (CL) were counted and the number of vital and non-vital embryos, embryonic spacing (distance between two embryos), implantation length, placental length, placental weight and embryonic weight were assessed. The difference between number of CL and total number of embryos was considered as early embryonic mortality. The number of non-vital embryos was considered as late mortality. Relationships between OR and all other variables were investigated using two models: the first considered parity as class effect (n=91) and the second used a subset of sows with parities 4 to 10 (n=47) to analyse the genetic background as class effect. OR was significantly affected by parity (P<0.0001), but was not affected by the genetic background of the sows. Parity and genetic background did not affect embryonic and placental characteristics at 35 days of pregnancy. OR (varying from 17 to 38 CL) was positively related with early embryonic mortality (β=0.49±0.1 n/ovulations, P<0.0001), with late embryonic mortality or number of non-vital embryos (β=0.24±0.1 n/ovulations, P=0.001) and with the number of vital embryos (β=0.26±0.1 n/ovulations, P=0.01). However, dividing OR in four classes, showed that the number of vital embryos was lowest in OR class 1 (17 to 21 CL), but not different for the other OR classes, suggesting a plateau for number of vital embryos for OR above 22. There was a negative linear relationship between OR and vital embryonic spacing (β=-0.45±0.1 cm/ovulation, P=0.001), implantation length (β=-0.35±0.1 cm/ovulation, P=0.003), placental length (β=-0.38±0.2 cm/ovulation, P=0.05) and empty space around embryonic-placental unit (β=-0.4±0.2 cm/ovulation, P=0.02), indicating uterine crowding. Further analyses showed that effects of OR on embryonic and uterine parameters were related with the increase in late mortality and not early embryonic mortality. Therefore, we conclude that a high OR results in an moderate increase in the number of vital embryos at day 35 of pregnancy, but compromises development in the surviving embryonic/placental units, suggesting that the future growth and survival of the embryos might be further compromised.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1192-1199
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • early embryonic mortality
  • embryo development
  • late embryonic mortality
  • ovulation rate
  • placental development


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