Skip to main content Accessibility help

Reduced growth performance in gilt progeny is not improved by segregation from sow progeny in the grower–finisher phase

  • J. R. Craig (a1) (a2), R. J. E. Hewitt (a3), T. L. Muller (a3), J. J. Cottrell (a4), F. R. Dunshea (a4) and J. R. Pluske (a2)...


Gilt progeny (GP) are born and weaned lighter than sow progeny (SP) and tend to have higher rates of mortality and morbidity. This study quantified the lifetime growth performance differences between GP and SP and, additionally, evaluated whether segregating GP and SP in the grower–finisher period compared to mixing them within common pens reduced this variation. It was hypothesised that GP would be lighter than SP at every stage and segregation would improve growth performance of both GP and SP. All piglets born to 61 gilts (parity 1) and 47 sows (parities 2 to 7; mean 3.5 ± 0.2) were allocated to four treatments at 10 weeks of age: (i) GP housed together (GG), (ii) GP mixed (M) with SP (GM), (iii) SP housed together (SS) and (iv) SP mixed with GP (SM). The GM and SM pigs were housed together in common pens after movement into the grower–finisher facility. Individual live weight of all progeny was recorded at birth, weaning (WWT), 10 weeks of age (10WT) and sale (SWT). Individual hot carcass weight (HCW), fat depth at the head of the last rib (P2) and dressing percentage were measured at slaughter. Gilt progeny were lighter at birth (P = 0.038), weaning (P < 0.001) and through to sale (P = 0.001) than SP. Nursery and grower–finisher performance differences in GP were highly attributable to their lower WWT compared to SP (P < 0.001 when fitted as a covariate). Segregation of GP and SP increased grower–finisher average daily gain (ADG) in SP but decreased ADG and SWT in GP (P < 0.10). Segregated SP had increased average daily feed intake but only in males (P = 0.007); HCW (P < 0.001) and P2 fat depth (P = 0.055) were higher in mixed female GP, but there was no difference (P > 0.10) in female SP, or in males. In conclusion, GP were lighter at every stage than SP and differences after weaning were highly related to the lighter WWT of GP. Under the conditions of this study, overall segregation of GP and SP showed no consistent advantages in growth performance for both groups and differed significantly between males and females.


Corresponding author


Hide All
Australian Pork Limited 2013. Australian pig annual 2012–2013. Australian Pork Limited, Deakin West, ACT, Australia.
Balzani, A, Cordell, HJ, Sutcliffe, E and Edwards, SA 2016. Sources of variation in udder morphology of sows. Journal of Animal Science 94, 394400.
Brean, M, Abraham, S, Hebart, M and Kirkwood, RN 2016. Influence of parity of birth and suckled sows on piglet nasal mucosal colonization with Haemophilus parasuis. The Canadian Veterinary Journal 57, 1281.
Carney-Hinkle, EE, Tran, H, Bundy, JW, Moreno, R, Miller, PS and Burkey, TE 2013. Effect of dam parity on litter performance, transfer of passive immunity, and progeny microbial ecology. Journal of Animal Science 91, 28852893.
Craig, JR, Collins, CL, Bunter, KL, Cottrell, JJ, Dunshea, FR and Pluske, JR 2017a. Poorer lifetime growth performance of gilt progeny compared with sow progeny is largely due to weight differences at birth and reduced growth in the preweaning period, and is not improved by progeny segregation after weaning. Journal of Animal Science 95, 49044916.
Craig, JR, Collins, CL, Athorn, RZ, Dunshea, FR and Pluske, JR 2017b. Investigating the reproductive performance of gilt progeny entering the breeding herd. Journal of Swine Health and Production 25, 230237.
Dunshea, F 2001. Sexual dimorphism in growth of sucking and growing pigs. Asian Australasian Journal of Animal Science 14, 16101615.
Dunshea, FR and D’souza, DN 2003. Review: fat deposition and metabolism in the pig. In Manipulating pig production IX (ed. Paterson, JE), pp. 127150. Australasian Pig Science Association, Fremantle, Australia.
Dunshea, FR, Kerton, DK, Cranwell, PD, Campbell, RG, Mullan, BP, King, RH, Power, GN and Pluske, JR 2003. Lifetime and post-weaning determinants of performance indices of pigs. Australian Journal of Agricultural Research 54, 363370.
Friendship, RM and O’sullivan, TL 2015. Sow health. In The gestating and lactating sow (ed. Farmer, C), pp. 409421. Wageningen Academic Publishers, Wageningen, The Netherlands.
Gatford, KL, De Blasio, MJ, Roberts, CT, Nottle, MB, Kind, KL, van Wettere, WHEJ, Smits, RJ and Owens, JA 2009. Responses to maternal GH or ractopamine during early–mid pregnancy are similar in primiparous and multiparous pregnant pigs. Journal of Endocrinology 203, 143154.
Gluckman, PD and Hanson, MA 2004. Maternal constraint of fetal growth and its consequences. Seminars in Fetal and Neonatal Medicine 9, 419425.
Hermesch, S, McKenna, T, Bauer, MM and Sales, N 2017. The effect of dam parity on growth, white blood cell count, haemoglobin and immunoglobulin levels of weaner pigs. Animal Production Science 57, 24822482.
Herpin, P, Le Dividich, J and Van Os, M 1992. Contribution of colostral fat to thermogenesis and glucose homeostasis in the newborn pig. Journal of Developmental Physiology 17, 133141.
Kavanagh, S, Lynch, P, Caffrey, P, Henry, W and Cranwell, P 1997. The effect of pig weaning weight on post-weaning performance and carcass traits. In Manipulating pig production VI (ed. Cranwell, PD), p. 71. Australasian Pig Science Association, Canberra, Australia.
Klobasa, F, Butler, JE, Werhahn, E and Habe, F 1986. Maternal-neonatal immunoregulation in swine. II. Influence of multiparity on de novo immunoglobulin synthesis by piglets. Veterinary Immunology and Immunopathology 11, 149159.
Le Dividich, J and Noblet, J 1981. Colostrum intake and thermoregulation in the neonatal pig in relation to environmental temperature. Neonatology 40, 167174.
Mahan, DC 1993. Effect of weight, split-weaning, and nursery feeding programs on performance responses of pigs to 105 kilograms body weight and subsequent effects on sow rebreeding interval. Journal of Animal Science 71, 19911995.
McOrist, S, Bowles, R and Blackall, P 2009. Autogenous sow vaccination for Glasser’s disease in weaner pigs in two large swine farm systems. Journal of Swine Health and Production 17, 9096.
Miller, YJ, Collins, AM, Emery, D, Begg, DJ, Smits, RJ and Holyoake, PK 2012. Piglet performance and immunity is determined by the parity of both the birth dam and the rearing dam. Animal Production Science 53, 4651.
Milligan, BN, Dewey, CE and de Grau, AF 2002. Neonatal-piglet weight variation and its relation to pre-weaning mortality and weight gain on commercial farms. Preventive Veterinary Medicine 56, 119127.
Moore, C 2001. Segregated production: How far could we go? In Proceedings of the Allen D Leman Swine Conference, 15 September 2001, Minneapolis, MN, USA, pp. 203206.
Muns, R, Manteca, X and Gasa, J 2015. Effect of different management techniques to enhance colostrum intake on piglets’ growth and mortality. Animal Welfare 24, 185192.
National Health and Medical Research Council 2013. Australian code for the care and use of animals for scientific purposes. 8th edition. National Health and Medical Research Council, Canberra, ACT, Australia.
Nielsen, MK, Kittok, RJ and Kochera Kirby, YL 1995. Uterine mass and uterine blood volume in mice selected 21 generations for alternative criteria to increase litter size. Journal of Animal Science 73, 22432248.
Pluske, JR, Kerton, DK, Cranwell, PD, Campbell, RG, Mullan, BP, King, RH, Power, GN, Pierzynowski, SG, Westrom, B and Rippe, C 2003. Age, sex, and weight at weaning influence organ weight and gastrointestinal development of weanling pigs. Australian Journal of Agricultural Research 54, 515527
Pluske, JR, Williams, IH, Zak, LJ, Clowes, EJ, Cegielski, AC and Aherne, FX 1998. Feeding lactating primiparous sows to establish three divergent metabolic states: III. Milk production and pig growth. Journal of Animal Science 76, 11651171
Quiniou, N, Dagorn, J and Gaudré, D 2002. Variation of piglets’ birth weight and consequences on subsequent performance. Livestock Production Science 78, 6370.
Rault, J-L, Ferrari, J, Pluske, J and Dunshea, F 2015. Neonatal oxytocin administration and supplemental milk ameliorate the weaning transition and alter hormonal expression in the gastrointestinal tract in pigs. Domestic Animal Endocrinology 51, 1926.
Rooke, JA and Bland, IM 2002. The acquisition of passive immunity in the new-born piglet. Livestock Production Science 78, 1323.
Schinckel, AP, Einstein, ME, Steward, TS, Schwab, C and Olynk, NJ 2010. Use of a stochastic model to evaluate the growth performance and profitability of pigs from different litter sizes and parities of dams. The Professional Animal Scientist 26, 547560.
Seyfang, J, Plush, KJ, Kirkwood, RN, Tilbrook, AJ and Ralph, CR 2018. The sex ratio of a litter affects the behaviour of its female pigs until at least 16 weeks of age. Applied Animal Behaviour Science 200, 4550.
Sinclair, AG, Edwards, SA, Hoste, S, McCartney, A and Fowler, VR 1996. Partitioning of dietary protein during lactation in the Meishan synthetic and European White breeds of pig. Animal Science 62, 355362.
Theil, P, Nielsen, M, Sørensen, M and Lauridsen, C 2012. Lactation, milk and suckling. In Nutritional physiology of pigs (eds. Bach Knudsen, KE, Kjeldsen, NJ, Poulsen, HD and Jensen, BB), pp. 147. Danish Pig Research Centre, Copenhagen, Denmark.


Reduced growth performance in gilt progeny is not improved by segregation from sow progeny in the grower–finisher phase

  • J. R. Craig (a1) (a2), R. J. E. Hewitt (a3), T. L. Muller (a3), J. J. Cottrell (a4), F. R. Dunshea (a4) and J. R. Pluske (a2)...


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