Physiological responses and some aspects of reproductive function were examined in mated female pigs subjected to a short-term heat stress during two intervals of early gestation. Trial 1 control and treated animals experienced temperatures of 24.0 and 40.2 degrees C, respectively, from days 2 through 13 of pregnancy. Trial 2 control and treated pigs were exposed to 23.3 and 40.4 degrees C, respectively, from days 14 through 25 of pregnancy. Both high thermal exposures caused significant increases (P less than 0.05) in rectal temperature. At body temperatures of 41.1 degrees C or above, animals became more active and behavioral patterns erratic. Stressed pigs in both trials exhibited adaptation to the short-term high thermal environment as treatment days progressed. Embryonic mortality in the stressed animals in trial 1 was greater than in controls, with the animals in the former group retaining a normal size litter or losing the entire litter by day of slaughter. A significant proportion (P less than 0.01) of litters from stressed animals contained degenerating fetuses at day 42 of gestation, suggesting a continuous or delayed effect of thermal stress on embryo survival.
- Copyright © 1975 by American Physiological Society