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Swine Nutrition and Feed Technology
Asian-Australasian Journal of Animal Sciences 2001;14(11): 1610-1615.
DOI: https://doi.org/10.5713/ajas.2001.1610    Published online November 1, 2001.
Sexual Dimorphism in Growth of Sucking and Growing Pigs
F. R. Dunshea
Three studies were conducted to determine the effect of sex on pre- and post-weaning performance of pigs. These studies were conducted in response to observations that female pigs appear to grow faster than male pigs after weaning. In addition, female pigs have been found to grow faster than male pigs when supplied with supplemental milk before weaning. The aims of the present work were to further characterise the ontogeny of sex differences growth of nursing and growing pigs. In the first study, piglets sucking 32 sows were crossfostered to produce litters of 10 boars (n=9), 10 gilts (n=11) or 5 boars and 5 gilts (n=12). Liveweight of the sucking pigs was then measured weekly until weaning at 4 weeks of age. In the second study, 80 boars and 80 gilts were weaned at 26 days of age and growth performance measured until 21 days post-weaning. In the third experiment, 40 boars and 40 gilts were weaned into groups of 5 pigs at either 17 or 25 days of age and pigs were weighed until they were approximately 90 kg liveweight. All-boar litters grew more slowly than the all-gilt and mixed litters such that by 14 days of age the all-boar litters were 10% lighter than the all-gilt or mixed litters (39 vs. 43.8 kg, p=0.050). The proportional difference in litter weight appeared to be maintained at 21 days of age (53.9 vs. 59.4 kg, p=0.063) but was diminished by 28 days of age (66.5 vs. 70.8 kg, p=0.28). In the second study, gilts grew more quickly than boars over the first 7 and 21 days post-weaning and as a consequence were 10% heavier than boars at 21 days after weaning (13.7 vs 12.48 kg, p=0.001). In the third study, gilts grew more quickly than boars in the immediate 7 days post-weaning (40 vs. 5 g/day, p=0.014) whereas from 7 until 35 days post-weaning there was no significant difference in growth rate (381 vs. 360 g/day, p=0.19). Gilts also grew more quickly than boars over the 14 days after being moved into the grower (631 vs. 570 g/day, p=0.013) and finisher (749 vs. 688 g/day, p=0.038) sheds. However, these differences were not maintained over the entire period in each shed. These data support the hypotheses that gilts handle the stresses of weaning and other transitions better than boars.
Keywords: Pig; Lactation; Sex; Growth; Weaning; Stress
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