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    The critically low hepatic iron stores of newborn piglets are considered to be a major cause of neonatal iron deficiency in modern breeds of domestic pig (Sus domestica). The main factor believed to contribute to this phenomenon is large litter size, which has been an objective of selective breeding of pigs for decades. As consequence, iron transferred from the pregnant sow has to be distributed among a greater number of fetuses. Here, we investigated whether litter size influences red blood cell (RBC) indices and iron parameters in Polish Large White (PLW) piglets and gilts. Small and large litters were produced by the transfer of different numbers of embryos, derived from the same superovulated donor females, to recipient gilts. Piglets from large litters obtained following routine artificial insemination were also examined. Our results clearly demonstrated that varying the number of piglets in a litter did not affect the RBC and iron status of 1-day-old piglets, with all showing iron deficiency anemia. In contrast, gilts with small litters displayed higher RBC and iron parameters compared to mothers with large litters. A comparative analysis of the RBC status of wild boars (having less than half as many piglets per litter as domestic pigs) and PLW pigs, demonstrated higher RBC count, hemoglobin level and hematocrit value of both wild boar sows and piglets, even compared to small-litter PLW animals. These findings provide evidence that RBC and iron status in newborn PLW piglets are not primarily determined by litter size, and indicate the need to study the efficiency of iron transport across the placenta in domestic pig and wild boar females. © 2024. The Author(s).


    Zuzanna Kopeć, Rafał Mazgaj, Rafał Radosław Starzyński, Xiuying Wang, Jolanta Opiela, Zdzisław Smorąg, Barbara Gajda, Jakub Nicpoń, Małgorzata Lenartowicz, Magdalena Ogłuszka, Mikołaj Antoni Gralak, Paweł Lipiński. Impact of litter size on the hematological and iron status of gilts, sows and newborn piglets: a comparative study of domestic pigs and wild boars. BMC veterinary research. 2024 Feb 23;20(1):64

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    PMID: 38389107

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