Should Weaning be the Start of the Reproductive Cycle in Hyper-prolific Sows? A Physiological View

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Normally, sows are in anoestrus during lactation and start their new cycle at the day of weaning. Modern hybrid primiparous sows that suckle large numbers of piglets may lose substantial amounts of body reserves during lactation. This compromises follicle development during lactation. As modern sows have short weaning-to-oestrus intervals, these compromised follicles are recruited for ovulation directly after weaning, resulting in lower ovulation rates and lower embryo survival. Postponing or skipping first oestrus after weaning in primiparous sows may help to limit the negative consequences of lactation on subsequent reproduction. Multiparous sows may have very high litter sizes, especially after long lactations as applied in organic sows. These high litter sizes compromise piglet birthweight and survival and subsequent performance. Inducing lactation oestrus in multiparous sows may help to limit litter size and improve piglet survival and performance. This study discusses physiological and reproductive effects of extending the start of a new pregnancy after lactation in primiparous sows and induction of lactation oestrus in multiparous sows. We thereby challenge the view that weaning is an ideal start for the reproductive cycle in modern sows.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)320-326
JournalReproduction in Domestic Animals
Issue numberSuppl. 4
Publication statusPublished - 2012


  • lactating primiparous sows
  • to-estrus interval
  • litter size
  • follicular development
  • feeding level
  • altrenogest treatments
  • progestagen treatment
  • endocrine changes
  • embryo survival
  • 1st-litter sows

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