Exogenous genistein in late gestation: effects on fetal development and sow and piglet performance
Due to their functional similarity to estradiol, phytoestrogens could prove to be beneficial in late gestating sows. The goal of this study was to determine the impact of providing the phytoestrogen genistein during late pregnancy on the performance of sows and their litters. In total, 56 gilts were equally divided into the two following groups on day 90 of gestation: (1) controls (CTL); and (2) two daily i.m. injections of 220 mg of genistein (GEN). Treatments were carried out until farrowing.
... Jugular blood samples were collected from 16 gilts/treatment on days 89 and 110 of gestation, and on days 3 and 21 of lactation. Milk samples were also obtained from those sows on day 3 of lactation. A male piglet from 16 CTL and 15 GEN litters was slaughtered at 24 hpostpartumand a blood sample was obtained. The liver, heart and visceral organs were weighed and the semitendinosus (ST) muscle was collected and carcass composition was determined. The treatment increased (P<0.05) the concentrations of genistein and daidzein in the plasma of gilts on day 110 of gestation and of genistein in the plasma of piglets at 24 hpostpartum. It also increased IGF1 concentrations in gilts at the end of the treatment period (P<0.05). Genistein had no impact (P>0.1) on weight or backfat loss of sows during lactation, milk composition or weights of piglets. The pre-weaning mortality rate of piglets was very low (<7%), yet the odds ratio comparing CTL with GEN sows indicated almost twice as many chances of pre-weaning deaths occurring in litters from CTL than GEN sows. Weights of the piglet carcasses were similar for both treatments, as well as weights of the various organs and of the ST muscle (P>0.1). However, carcasses from GEN litters contained more fat than those from CTL litters (9.63%v.8.34%,P<0.05). None of the biochemical properties of the ST muscle differed between groups (P>0.1). In conclusion, injecting gilts with 440 mg/day of genistein in late gestation increased IGF1 concentrations in gilts and carcass fat in neonatal piglets, but had minimal effect on muscle development of piglets at birth and on the performance of lactating sows and their litters.