Effects of birthweight on reproductive system development and onset of puberty in gilts

Almeida, F.R.C.L.; Laurenssen, B.F.A.; Pereira, L.X.; Teerds, K.J.; Soede, N.M.


The aim of the present study was to investigate the effects of birthweight on bodyweight development, development of the genital tract, onset of puberty and their associations with insulin-like growth factor (IGF) 1 and leptin concentrations. Pairs of littermate gilts from 51 litters were selected: one piglet with the highest birthweight (HW; 1.5 ± 0.2 kg) and the other with the lowest birthweight (LW; 1.0 ± 0.2 kg). Gilt pairs were killed at either fixed ages (80.8 ± 1.2 days; AG; 16 pairs), fixed bodyweight (35.2 ± 1.4 kg; WG; 16 pairs) or after first oestrus (EG; 19 pairs). In the AG group, HW gilts were 5.6 kg heavier at the time of death than LW gilts. In the WG group, LW gilts were 5.9 days older at the time of death (P <0.05). There were no significant differences in the number or size of total antral follicles or in the follicle population among birthweight classes. Age at puberty was similar between the HW and LW gilts, but bodyweight at time of death was greater for HW gilts (P <0.05). Birthweight did not affect the development of the genital tract, ovulation rate or hormone plasma concentrations. These results suggest that birthweight does not affect the development of the genital tract before puberty and puberty onset.