Skip to main content Accessibility help

Effects of increased levels of supplemental vitamins during the summer in a commercial artificial insemination boar stud

  • D. W. Lugar (a1), K. E. Harlow (a2), J. Hundley (a3), M. Goncalves (a3), J. Bergstrom (a4) and K. R. Stewart (a2)...


Heat stress due to increasing extremes in ambient temperature and humidity results in reduced semen quality in boars. This has caused reduced efficiency of the swine industry, requiring more boars to breed the same number of sows. Vitamins such as vitamin C (VC) and E (VE) have been shown to improve semen quality in boars. Recently, vitamin D has been shown to improve semen quality in boars. The purpose of this experiment was to evaluate the effects of increased supplemental vitamins on boar reproduction during the summer season in a commercial boar stud. One hundred and sixty Pig Improvement Company (PIC) terminal line boars (n = 32 per treatment) and 39 maternal, heat-sensitive boars (n = 7 or 8 per treatment) were randomly allocated to treatment and fed a corn and soybean meal-based diet adjusted based on individual boar body condition score. A control (CNT) diet was used that met PIC recommendations for boars. Increased supplementation of specific vitamins was given in the form of a top-dress and consisted of CNT wheat middlings, CNT plus VC (560 mg/day), CNT plus 25-hydroxy vitamin D3 (VD) (125 µg/day), CNT plus VE (275 mg/day) and CNT plus VC, VD and VE (CDE). The experiment was split into three periods based on maximum daily high temperatures in the barn, where period 1 was weeks 1 to 4, period 2 was weeks 5 to 11 and period 3 was weeks 12 to 14. Semen was collected from boars as needed using the stud’s normal production schedule and was analyzed for sperm quantity and quality characteristics. There were no dietary effects on semen volume, sperm concentration or total sperm production (P ≥ 0.553). Total motility of sperm was not impacted by diet (P = 0.115); although, VC tended (P = 0.064) to have a greater progressive motility than CDE. Percentages of morphologically normal sperm and normal acrosomes were not affected by dietary supplementation (P ≥ 0.157). Period effects were observed for most semen quality parameters, with quality generally becoming reduced over time. The present study demonstrates that increased supplementation of vitamins beyond PIC recommendations was not beneficial for boar reproduction during the summer.


Corresponding author


Hide All
Association of Official Analytical Chemists 2016. Official methods of analysis of AOAC international, 20th edition. Association of Official Analytical Chemists International, Arlington, VA, USA.
Audet, I, Laforest, JP, Martineau, GP and Matte, JJ 2004. Effect of vitamin supplements on some aspects of performance, vitamin status, and semen quality in boars. Journal of Animal Science 82, 626633.
Auvigne, V, Leneveu, P, Jehannin, C, Peltoniemi, O and Salle, E 2010. Seasonal infertility in sows: a five-year field study to analyze the relative roles of heat stress and photoperiod. Theriogenology 74, 6066.
Bendich, A, Machlin, LJ, Scandurra, O, Burton, GW and Wayner, DDM 1986. The antioxidant role of vitamin C. Advanced Free Radical Biology 2, 419444.
Britt, JH, Szarek, VE and Levis, DG 1983. Characterization of summer infertility of sows in large confinement units. Theriogenology 20, 133140.
Brown-Brandl, TM, Eigenberg, RA and Purswell, JL 2013. Using thermal imaging as a method of investigating thermal thresholds in finishing pigs. Biosystems Engineering 114, 327333.
Castellini, C, Lattaioli, P, Bernardini, M and Dal Bosco, A 2000. Effect of dietary alpha-tocopheryl acetate and ascorbic acid on rabbit semen stored at 5 degrees C. Theriogenology 54, 523533.
Flowers, WL 2008. Genetic and phenotypic variations in reproductive traits of AI boars. Theriogenology 70, 12971303.
Halloran, BP and Deluca, HF 1980. Effect of vitamin D deficiency on fertility and reproductive capacity in the female rat. Journal of Nutrition 110, 15731580.
Kinuta, K, Tanaka, H, Moriwake, T, Aya, K, Kato, S and Sieno, Y 2000. Vitamin D is an important factor in estrogen biosynthesis of both female and male gonads. Endocrinology 141, 13171324.
Knox, R, Levis, D, Safranski, T and Singleton, W 2008. An update on North American boar stud practices. Theriogenology 70, 12021208.
Kolodziej, A and Jacyno, E 2005. Effect of selenium and vitamin E supplementation on reproductive performance of young boars. Archiv fur Tierzucht 48, 6875.
Kwiecinski, G, Petrie, G and DeLuca, H 1989. Vitamin D is necessary for reproductive functions of the male rat. Journal of Nutrition 119, 741744.
Lin, HK, Chen, SY, Huang, CY, Kuo, YH and Wung, LC 1985. Studies on improving semen quality of working boars fed diet with addition of vitamin C in summer season. Annual Research Report: Animal Industry Research Institute 73, 5973.
Lin, Y, Lv, G, Dong, HJ, Wu, D, Tao, ZY, Xu, SY, Che, LQ, Fang, ZF, Bai, SP, Feng, B, Li, J and Xu, XY 2017. Effects of the different levels of dietary vitamin D on boar performance and semen quality. Livestock Science 203, 6368.
Malmgren, L 1989. Experimentally induced testicular alterations in boars: sperm morphology changes in mature and peripubertal boars. Zentralblatt fur Veterinarmedizin Reihe A 36, 411420.
Malmgren, L and Larsson, K 1989. Experimentally induced testicular alterations in boars. Transboundary and Emerging Diseases 36, 314.
Marin-Guzman, J, Mahan, DC, Chung, YK, Pate, JL and Pope, WF 1997. Effects of dietary selenium and vitamin E on boar performance and tissue responses, semen quality, and subsequent fertilization rates in mature gilts. Journal of Animal Science 75, 29943003.
Marin-Guzman, J, Mahan, DC and Pate, JL 2000. Effect of dietary selenium and vitamin E on spermatogenic development in boars. Journal of Animal Science 78, 15371543.
Matson, PL, Myssonski, K, Yovich, S, Morrison, L, Irving, J and Bakos, HW 2010. The density of human semen and the validation of weight as an indicator of volume: a multicentre study. Reproduction Biology 2, 141153.
McNitt, JI and First, NL 1970. Effects of 72-hour heat stress on semen quality in boars. International Journal of Biometeorology 14, 373380.
Parikh, G, Varadinova, M, Suwandhi, P, Araki, T, Rosenwaks, Z, Poretsky, L and Seto-Young, D 2010. Vitamin D regulates steroidogenesis and insulin-like growth factor binding protein-1 (IGFBP-1) production in human ovarian cells. Hormone Metabolism Research 42, 754757.
PIC 2016. Nutrient specifications manual. Pig Improvement Company. 24.
Prunier, A, Dourmad, JY and Etienne, M 1994. Effect of light regimen under various ambient temperatures on sow and litter performance. Journal of Animal Science 72, 14611466.
Rolf, C, Cooper, TG, Yeung, CH and Nieschlag, E 1999. Antioxidant treatment of patients with asthenozoospermia or moderate oligoasthenozoospermia with high-dose vitamin C and vitamin E: a randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind study. Human Reproduction 14, 10281033.
Rozeboom, KJ, See, MT and Flowers, W 2000. Management practices to reduce the impact of seasonal infertility on sow herd productivity. Animal Science Facts (ANS 00-813s).
Stone, B 1982. Heat induced infertility of boars: the inter-relationship between depressed sperm output and fertility and an estimation of the critical air temperature above which sperm output is impaired. Animal Reproduction Science 4, 283299.
Wettemann, RP, Wells, ME and Johnson, RK 1979. Reproductive characteristics of boars during and after exposure to increased ambient-temperature. Journal of Animal Science 49, 15011505.
Wettemann, RP, Wells, ME, Omtvedt, IT, Pope, CE and Turman, EJ 1976. Influence of elevated ambient temperature on reproductive performance of boars. Journal of Animal Science 42, 664669.
Yamauchi, R 1997. Vitamin E: mechanism of its antioxidant activity. Food Science Technology International 3, 301309.


Effects of increased levels of supplemental vitamins during the summer in a commercial artificial insemination boar stud

  • D. W. Lugar (a1), K. E. Harlow (a2), J. Hundley (a3), M. Goncalves (a3), J. Bergstrom (a4) and K. R. Stewart (a2)...


Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed