Milk leptin in sows and blood leptin and growth of their offspring


Twenty-one mixed-parity (average 2.4 ± 0.49) crossbred sows and their offspring were used to determine whether sow milk leptin at farrowing was related to neonatal serum leptin and pig growth to weaning. During farrowing, pigs were randomly allotted to suckling (n = 99) or delayed suckling (n = 89) groups, with delayed suckling pigs placed in a group pen apart from the dam before suckling. Both groups had access to heat lamps. Colostrum samples were collected no more than 2 h after farrowing the first pig. Blood samples were collected from all pigs approximately 2 h after farrowing was complete; pigs were then ear notched and returned to their dams. Pig BW was recorded at 1.2 ± 0.04 d of age and again at weaning. Milk and blood serum were collected after centrifugation; leptin concentrations were estimated using RIA. Leptin was detected in colostral milk, as expected, and averaged 46.0 ± 1.1 ng/mL. Pig serum leptin (P < 0.02) was greater in suckling pigs than in delayed suckling pigs, averaging 0.69 ± 0.08 and 0.54 ± 0.07 ng/mL, respectively. Although male pigs were heavier (P < 0.01) at birth than female pigs (1,507 ± 52 vs. 1,381 ± 43 g), ADG to weaning and weaning weights were similar for both sexes, averaging 229 ± 14 g and 5,829 ± 323 g, respectively, for all pigs; serum leptin concentrations were not affected by sex of the pig. Milk serum leptin was not associated with litter size, parity, pig birth weight, ADG to weaning, or weaning weight. Suckling status did not influence ADG to weaning or weaning weight of pigs; neonatal pig serum leptin was not related to birth weight, weaning weight, or ADG to weaning. These results indicate that leptin is not directly related to early neonatal growth in the pig; however, more in-depth studies are needed to determine possible indirect or long-term effects of early leptin exposure.

Document Type




Publication Date


Journal Title

Journal of animal science