Increased sow nutrition during mid-gestation affects muscle fiber development and meat quality with no consequences on growth performance

A. Cerisuelo, M. D. Baucells, J. Gasa, J. Coma, D. Carrión, N. Chapinal, R. Sala

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Pregnant sow nutrition has potential effects on the muscle fiber development of progeny in utero. A total of 199 Landrace × Large White sows from parities 0 to 6 and their offspring were used to evaluate the effects of increasing the feeding amount during midpregnancy on the muscle tissue, growth performance, and meat quality of the progeny. The experiment was divided into 2 study replicates, and in each replicate, sows were assigned to 1 of the 2 treatments: 1) sows in the control group (C sows) were fed 2.5 to 3.0 kg/d (feed: 12.1 MJ of ME/kg and 0.62% lysine) throughout gestation; and 2) sows in the high group (H sows) received an extra feed allowance of 1.5 kg/d for gilts and 2.0 kg/d for multiparous sows above the C amount from d 45 to 85 of gestation (period of secondary muscle fiber formation). Sow backfat was recorded on d 40 and 85 of gestation. Sow performance (litter size and piglet BW) at farrowing and on d 18 of lactation was measured. At weaning, pigs were divided into 5 BW groups/treatment, and progeny growth performance was measured during the nursery (n = 958) and the growing-finishing (n = 636) periods. At slaughter, carcass and meat quality traits (lean content, main cut weight, pH, Minolta color, and drip loss) were recorded from the second lightest group at weaning (BW group 4; n = 90), and samples from the longissimus thoracis muscle were taken to study muscle fiber characteristics (n = 70). The extra nutrition from d 45 to 85 of gestation did not lead to differences in litter size or piglet BW at farrowing and on d 18 of lactation. Pigs born to H mothers had fewer muscle fibers and fewer estimated primary and secondary fibers than did pigs born to C mothers (P < 0.05). However, postnatal growth performance was not consistently affected by the maternal treatment. The smaller number of muscle fibers found in the H group of pigs was associated with fewer type IIB fibers (P < 0.05) with greater cross-sectional areas (P < 0.10), which might be related to the significantly greater meat pH at 24 h postmortem and the smaller L* (lightness) values recorded in the H group of pigs. Results from the present study confirm the existence of effects of maternal nutrition on fetal development, at least in terms of muscle tissue development and meat quality, although with no beneficial effects were found for the postnatal growth performance of the progeny. © 2009 American Society of Animal Science. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)729-739
JournalJournal of animal Science
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2009


  • Growth performance
  • Meat quality
  • Muscle fiber
  • Pregnancy feeding
  • Sow


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