Effects of flush feeding strategy before breeding on reproductive performance of modern replacement gilts: Impacts on ovulation rate and litter traits

Andre L. Mallmann, Lidia S. Arend, Gabriela S. Oliveira, Ana P.G. Mellagi, Rafael R. Ulguim, Mari L. Bernardi, Fernando P. Bortolozzo, Robert V. Knox

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The effects of two feed levels offered during two estrous cycles before insemination were evaluated on the reproductive performance of gilts. A total of 93 gilts (PIC Hendersonville, TN) were individually housed and manually fed twice a day with 2.1 or 3.6 kg/d of a corn and soybean meal-based diet (3.15 Mcal ME/kg and 0.64% standardized ileal digestible lysine), during two estrous cycles before breeding (cycle 1, between first and second estrus; cycle 2, between second and third estrus). Gilts were weighed at the beginning of the experiment, at second and third estrus, and at slaughter (30.2 ± 1.2 d of gestation). Follicles were counted at second estrus, and the embryo-placental units and the corpora lutea were individually counted, measured, and weighed at slaughter. Gilts fed 3.6 kg/d had greater BW gain during cycle 1 and cycle 2 (P < 0.001; + 9.8 kg and + 10.0 kg, respectively) becoming heavier at second and third estrus (P < 0.001). At second estrus, gilts fed 3.6 kg/d had 1.6 more medium-large follicles (P = 0.074) but no difference in follicle size (P = 0.530) was observed. Gilts fed 3.6 kg/d in cycle 1 or cycle 2 had a greater ovulation rate at third estrus (P < 0.016) than those receiving 2.1 kg/d. Also, 3.6 kg/d in cycle 2 increased early embryo mortality (P = 0.006; 2.3 vs. 1.1 dead embryos) and consequently reduced total embryo survival (P = 0.002; 84.6 vs. 90.1%). Gilts fed 3.6 kg/d during cycle 1 had two more total embryos (P < 0.001; 17.2 vs. 15.1) and two more vital embryos on day 30 (P < 0.001; 16.7 vs. 14.5) in comparison with gilts fed 2.1 kg/d. The coefficient of variation for placental length was greater for gilts fed 3.6 kg/d during cycle 1 (P = 0.003). No further significant effects of feeding levels were observed on embryo and placental traits (P . 0.063). These results suggest that the feeding level during the first cycle after pubertal estrus is crucial to set ovulation rate and potential litter size for breeding at next estrus. However, flush feeding gilts before insemination can negatively impact litter size by reducing embryo survival when breeding at third estrus.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of animal science
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2020


  • Embryo survival
  • Feeding
  • Flushing
  • Gilts
  • Ovulation rate

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Genetics


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