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Infertility and neonatal mortality in the sow III. Neonatal mortality and foetal development

  • R. W. Pomeroy (a1)


1. An analysis of pre-weaning mortality in inbred Large White pigs showed that the over-all mortality in ten generations of sows was 47·3%. During the first four generations mortality fluctuated between 30 and 45%; from the 5th to the 9th it fluctuated between 50 and 68% and in the 10th rose to 88%.

2. 70·2% of all deaths occurred in the first 3 days post-parturition and the average birth weight of pigs which died within 3 days was only 1003·5 g. compared with 1258·5 g. for those which survived. 83·0% of pigs weighing less than 900 g. at birth died within 3 days, whereas only 18·5% of pigs weighing more than 1400 g. died within the same period.

3. There were marked seasonal variations in mortality, this being highest during the winter months. Mortality was highest in litters of under 5 and over 15, but between 5 and 15 there was no increase in mortality with litter size. There was no difference in mortality between males and females.

4. Foetal growth was studied in 80 outbred sows of various breeds. Foetal weight was affected not only by age but also by litter size. The withinlitter variation in foetal weight increased with litter size but no increase in between-litter variation with litter size could be demonstrated statistically. Male foetuses were slightly heavier than females at all stages of pregnancy investigated.

5. The growth of the inbred Large White foetus was also studied at an early and late stage of inbreeding, and the reduced birth weight in the latter was shown to be reflected in slower growth of the foetus from mid-pregnancy onwards.

6. The anatomical composition of inbred Large White foetuses at a late stage of inbreeding has been compared with that of similar foetuses at an earlier stage and also with normal outbred Essex foetuses, at 51, 74, 97 and 108 days of pregnancy. The chemical composition of inbred Large White foetuses of a later stage of inbreeding was compared with that of outbred Essex foetuses at 51, 74, 97 and 108 days. The differences in anatomical composition between the smallest and largest foetuses within litters are comparable with those found postnatally in pigs fed on a high or low plane of nutrition, but this was not reflected in a very definite way in the chemical composition. X-ray photographs showed that ossification was more advanced in the largest foetus within a litter than in the smallest but the appearance of the ossification centres was not delayed in the latter.

7. Attempts to make reciprocal ovum transfers between inbred Large White and outbred Essex sows met with little success, probably due to the low fertility of the Large Whites, the prolonged exposure of the ovum during transference and the necessity of effecting the transfer of the ova at the 2-cell stage. The latter was conditioned by the rate of passage of the ova through the tube and the fact that they enter the uterus in the 4-cell stage.



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Infertility and neonatal mortality in the sow III. Neonatal mortality and foetal development

  • R. W. Pomeroy (a1)


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