Supplementation of the leucine metabolite β-hydroxy β-methyl butyrate (HMB) to sows during late gestation or lactation has been shown to improve piglet health, survival, and growth. This study aimed to investigate long-term effects of HMB supplementation to late-gestating sows on body characteristics of piglets at weaning. Sows were fed a standard lactation diet from day –15 relative to parturition and throughout the experiment and a diet supplemented with (HMB; n = 2) or without [control (CON); n = 3] 15 mg Ca(HMB)2/kg BW in morning meals from day –10 until parturition. Fifty-six suckling piglets were weighed at day 28 and water content was assessed by deuterium oxide dilution. Piglets were euthanized, organ weights and lengths were recorded, the empty carcass was analyzed for dry matter, ash, and crude protein content, and body fat content was calculated. Two litters were treated for diarrhea, which was included in the statistical model. Weight at birth and at day 28 was not affected by maternal HMB supplementation. The total weight of the small intestine in HMB piglets was 15% lighter (P < 0.01) and the caecum of HMB piglets were 16% longer and 22% heavier (P < 0.01) than in CON piglets, and the large intestine was not affected by treatment. Diarrhea increased the length and weight of small and large intestine (P < 0.01) and weight of the kidneys (P < 0.01). The weight of the liver was increased by 8% in the HMB piglets (P < 0.01) compared with CON piglets, and the spleen was 31% heavier in HMB piglets (P < 0.01). The weight of the kidneys was increased for the HMB piglets (P < 0.01) whereas the weights of stomach and heart were not affected by HMB supplementation. The carcasses of HMB piglets had a lower DM and fat content (P < 0.05) and increased CP content (P < 0.01) compared with CON piglets. In conclusion, the study showed that maternal HMB supplementation in late gestation had long-lasting effects on characteristics of the piglets.
Journal of Animal Science, 2012, Vol 90, Issue Suppl.4, p. 442-444
body composition; gastrointestinal tract; prenatal programming