The impact of oxidative stress on high prolific sows at farrowing

2020 lactating sow

The risk of oxidative stress for high prolific sows and the impact on the

Litter livability

High prolific sows have high energy needs to cover the fetal development during late gestation, but also to ensure a right lactation performance. The animals endure a stronger metabolic activity which generates intense free radical production. This is the reason why modern sows are seriously exposed to oxidative stress risks. (Li et al., 2022)

Oxidative stress is a real threat for the litter livability as it impacts several key steps around the farrowing, including piglets’ quality and lactation performance. When sows are exposed to additional oxidative stress factors such as a thermic stress or some nutritional issues, the numbers of “mummies” and still born piglets are commonly seen to increase.

Moreover, the farrowing time is a key indicator when we talk about high prolificacy. Farrowing time has been multiplied by 2 or 3 when data from 2020 is compared to data from 1990 (Oliviero et al., 2019).

The importance of farrowing time for

Sows' prolificacy

The farrowing time has physical detrimental effects on piglets as it is a source of hypoxia and it is associated to lower colostrum quality & intake (Peltoniemi et al., 2020). Regarding sows’ health, Olivero et al. (2013) have evidenced that longer farrowing times were also associated with uterine inflammation and a higher oxytocin utilization, leading to colostrum letdown and impacting the fertilization rate of the next mating.

Finally, long farrowing time increases contraction muscle solicitation, which by consequence leads to a higher number of free radicals emitted. Therefore, antioxidant consumption is increased, driving the physiological status to a higher level of oxidation. This is why it amplifies the detrimental phenomenon previously mentioned not only on piglets’ survival, but also regarding sows’ health (Li, H et al., 2013).

In conclusion, designing a solid antioxidant strategy can be seen as the major leverage to maintain the physiological balance in an acceptable range of oxidation during this critical period.

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