Maturation of digestive function is retarded and plasma antioxidant capacity lowered in fully weaned low birth weight piglets
Faculty of Pharmaceutical, Biomedical and Veterinary Sciences. Veterinary Sciences
The British journal of nutrition / Nutrition Society [London] - London
, p. 65-75
University of Antwerp
The digestive function of low birth weight (LBW) pigs post-weaning has been poorly studied. Therefore, newborns from eleven hyperprolific sows were weighed, weaned at 27·2 d and fed a starter diet until sampling. Sampling was done between 18 and 28 d post-weaning. An LBW piglet (n 19) was defined as a piglet having a birth weight less than 1 kg and less than the lower quartile of litter birth weights. Normal birth weight (NBW) piglets (n 13) were having a birth weight close to the mean litter birth weight. For each piglet, eighty-eight variables were determined. Data were analysed with linear models with type of piglet and litter as predictors. A principal component analysis was performed to determine the most important discriminating variables. In the LBW pig, the development of the digestive tract postweaning was delayed: lower small-intestinal weight:length ratio due to a thinner tela submucosa and tunica muscularis and a higher secretory capacity, both in the distal jejunum. These observations might be a consequence of lower circulating insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) concentrations (126 (SE 10·0) v. 158 (SE 12·0) ng/ml for LBW and NBW, respectively) and a lower density of IGF-1 receptors in the proximal small intestine. Additionally, the plasma antioxidant capacity was lower for the LBW pig. Taken together, in the LBW piglet, the normal gut maturation post-weaning was retarded and this did not seem to be related to the weaning transition as such.