Effects of rapid temperature fluctuations prior to breeding on reproductive efficiency in replacement gilts.
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Rapidly cooling pigs after heat stress (HS) results in a pathophysiological condition, and because rapid temperature fluctuations may be associated with reduced reproductive success in sows, it lends itself to the hypothesis that these conditions may be linked. Objectives were to determine the effects of rapid cooling on thermal response and future reproductive success in pigs. Thirty-six replacement gilts (137.80.9kg BW) were estrus synchronized and then 14.10.4 d after estrus confirmation, pigs were exposed to thermoneutral conditions (TN; n=12; 19.70.9C) for 6h, or HS (36.30.5C) for 3h, followed by 3h of rapid cooling (HSRC; n=12; immediate TN exposure and water dousing) or gradual cooling (HSGC; n=12; gradual decrease to TN conditions) repeated over 2 d. Vaginal (TV) and gastrointestinal tract temperatures (TGI) were obtained every 15min, and blood was collected on d 1 and d 2 during the HS and recovery periods at 180 and 60min, respectively. Pigs were bred 8.30.8 d after thermal treatments over 2 d. Reproductive tracts were collected and total fetus number and viability were recorded 28.00.8 d after insemination. HS increased TV and TGI (P=0.01; 0.98C) in HSRC and HSGC compared to TN pigs. During recovery, TV was reduced from 15 to 105min (P=0.01; 0.33C) in HSRC compared to HSGC pigs, but no overall differences in TGI were detected (P<0.05; 39.67C). Rapid cooling increased (P<0.05) TNF compared to HSGC and TN pigs during recovery-d 1 (55.2%), HS-d 2 (35.1%), and recovery-d 2 (64.9%). Viable fetuses tended to be reduced (P=0.08; 10.5%) and moribund fetuses tended to be increased (P=0.09; 159.3%) in HSRC compared to HSGC and TN pigs. In summary, rapid cooling prior to breeding may contribute to reduced fetal viability and reproductive success in pigs.