Split weaning improves pregnancy rate and embryo survival in sows mated in lactation

Alice C. Weaver, Karen L. Kind, Paul J. Herde, William H.E.J. van Wettere

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Increasing piglet weaning age while maintaining the reproductive efficiency of the breeding herd depends on the ability to stimulate sows to ovulate during lactation without reducing subsequent pregnancy rates and litter sizes. The aim of this study was to determine if a reduction in piglet suckling load, either prior to or immediately after mating in lactation, altered ovarian follicle development and increased embryo survival to day 30 of gestation. Fifty-nine multiparous Large White x Landrace sows were allocated to one of three treatments; litter size maintained at 11 piglets (control); litter size reduced to seven piglets on day 18 of lactation (split wean (SW)); or litter size reduced to seven piglets at expression of lactation oestrus (oestrus split wean (OES SW)). The percentage of sows that expressed lactation oestrus did not differ between treatments (79.7 %; P > 0.05) and split weaning had minimal effects on ovarian follicle development. Pregnancy rates were higher for SW and OES SW sows, compared to control sows. Embryo survival to day 30 of gestation was higher for SW sows (73.7 %) compared with control (56.4 %) and OES SW sows (49.5 %; P < 0.05). In summary, weaning a portion of the litter prior to mating in lactation improved pregnancy rates and embryo survival.

Original languageEnglish
Article number107440
JournalAnimal Reproduction Science
Publication statusPublished or Issued - Apr 2024
Externally publishedYes


  • Boar exposure
  • Follicle
  • Lactation oestrus
  • Ovary
  • Piglet

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Animals
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Endocrinology

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