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Meteorological effects on seasonal infertility in pigs

Lemoine, Anna (2013) Meteorological effects on seasonal infertility in pigs. PhD thesis, University of Leeds.

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Abstract

The presence of seasonal infertility has long been recognised, but its causes are much debated within the farming and scientific communities. Almost half of the UK breeding herd is kept outdoors and is therefore more likely to be susceptible to seasonal infertility. Most research on the matter has been conducted on indoor sows, and so the aim of this thesis was to describe the effects of meteorological conditions on reproductive function in both outdoor sows and commercial boars. The data confirm that both sows and boars suffer from seasonal reductions in reproductive output. Reduced farrowing rates were the major manifestation of seasonality in sows. High temperatures and long days were associated with poor performance. A simulation model of seasonal infertility was developed; with further re�nement this could potentially provide a tool for farmers, allowing them to make managerial adjustments to compensate for low productivity in select months. Seasonal effects on litter size were less apparent when assessed at herd level. However individual sows were found to be more or less susceptible to reductions from summer services, suggesting a genetic predisposition to seasonal infertility. Sow skin temperatures and respiration rates increased with external temperature humidity indices; these increases occurred at a lower threshold following cold conditions. Together with observed thermoregulatory behaviour it appears that UK sows become acclimatised to cold weather and are therefore more susceptible to heat stress when it becomes warmer. Boar semen quality was reduced over the summer and early autumn months, with a higher proportion of abnormalities and lower sperm concentrations. However individual boar and management parameters had a larger effect on semen quality than meteorological conditions. More research into outdoor production systems is required and further links between boar and sow fertility should be made. Producers need to be aware that outdoor sows may behave differently from those on indoor units.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
ISBN: 978-0-85731-397-3
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Biological Sciences (Leeds)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.589339
Depositing User: Repository Administrator
Date Deposited: 23 Jan 2014 16:15
Last Modified: 03 Sep 2014 10:47
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/5059

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