Neonatal piglet nutritional interventions to improve growth and development: supplemental liquid feeding and oral glutamine supplementation

The genetic selection towards high prolificacy has resulted in increased litter size and more low birth weight (LBW) piglets. Sow’s milk production for each individual piglet is insufficient in large litters and LBW piglets suffer lower survival rates, reduced growth and gut development. This thesis investigated the effects of two piglet nutritional interventions: supplemental liquid feeding during suckling period on piglet growth, sow body condition and milk composition; oral glutamine (Gln) supplementation during early neonatal period on growth, plasma metabolite and amino acid (AA) concentrations and jejunal characteristics of LBW piglets. In study 1, piglets received supplemental liquid feeding (milk replacer and liquid feed) or dry feed during suckling (days 1-27 after birth). Supplemental liquid feeding improved piglet body weight (+8.8%) and growth rates (+5.6%), and the positive effect was greater in male piglets and offspring from young sows (parities 1-3). Supplemental liquid feeding could not improve sow body condition and body weights, and the effect on milk composition was minor. In study 2, pairs of new-born LBW and normal birth weight (NBW) male littermate piglets received daily oral Gln (GLN-LBW, GLN-NBW) or alanine (ALA-LBW, ALA-NBW) supplementation for 12 d while suckled by their dams. Oral Gln supplementation improved growth (+7.5%) and milk intake (+14.7%) of LBW piglets, plasma AA pool of NBW piglets as indicated by the increased plasma AA concentrations (e.g. arginine and histidine), and might spare arginine regardless of birth weight. Oral Gln supplementation might normalize plasma triglyceride levels of LBW piglets and regulate jejunal protein synthesis of NBW piglets. This work provides new insights on the effects of supplemental liquid feeding during suckling on piglet growth and sow body condition and of oral Gln supplementation during the early neonatal period on growth, metabolic health and jejunal characteristics of LBW piglets.


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