Heat stress alert: in summer, high temperatures can affect sows reproductive performance and lead to oxidative stress
High summer temperatures increase the chance that sows herds will be exposed to heat stress, which has consequences on their reproductive performance:
Longer weaning to estrus intervals
Decreased pregnancy rate and farrowing rate
Failure to maintain pregnancy
Lower conception rates
As compared to winter farrowing, summer farrowing is linked to:
Smaller litter sizes
Lower average piglet weaning weights
Increased abortion risks
Pregnancy is a state of oxidative stress, characterized by the production of excessive reactive oxygen species (ROS) including superoxide and hydrogen peroxide. Excessive free radical production may cause both lipid and protein oxidation and impair normal endothelial cell function (Serdar et al., 2003). The elevated oxidative stress could alter the placenta and fetal skeleton formation as well (Prater et al., 2008). In addition, oxidative stress and a disrupted antioxidant system are reported to be involved in a variety of complications such as fetal growth restriction or infertility.
This is why, during heat stress periods, it is important to ensure good storage of antioxidant molecules in the muscle, that can be used when the sow requires them. Lallemand proposes two antioxidant solutions to supplement the sow diet:
MELOFEED, a dried melon juice naturally rich in Superoxide Dismutase (SOD). SOD is a primary antioxidant, responsible for the neutralization of reactive oxygen species.
ALKOSEL, a source of highly bioavailable organic selenium. Alkosel supports antioxidant defenses by delivering selenium, the cofactor of a group of antioxidant enzymes named glutathione peroxidase (GPx).
To find out about more heat stress challenges and nutritional solutions for pigs, download our 9-page documentation below!