Publications by authors named "Stefan Björkman"

7 Publications

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Coping with large litters: the management of neonatal piglets and sow reproduction.

J Anim Sci Technol 2021 Jan 31;63(1):1-15. Epub 2021 Jan 31.

Department of Production Animal Medicine, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Helsinki, Saarentaus 04920, Finland.

As a result of intensive breeding, litter size has considerably increased in pig production over the last three decades. This has resulted in an increase in farrowing complications. Prolonged farrowing will shorten the window for suckling colostrum and reduce the chances for high-quality colostrum intake. Studies also agree that increasing litter sizes concomitantly resulted in decreased piglet birth weight and increased within-litter birth weight variations. Birth weight, however, is one of the critical factors affecting the prognosis of colostrum intake, and piglet growth, welfare, and survival. Litters of uneven birth weight distribution will suffer and lead to increased piglet mortality before weaning. The proper management is key to handle the situation. Feeding strategies before farrowing, management routines during parturition (e.g., drying and moving piglets to the udder and cross-fostering) and feeding an energy source to piglets after birth may be beneficial management tools with large litters. Insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1)-driven recovery from energy losses during lactation appears critical for supporting follicle development, the viability of oocytes and embryos, and, eventually, litter uniformity. This paper explores certain management routines for neonatal piglets that can lead to the optimization of their colostrum intake and thereby their survival in large litters. In addition, this paper reviews the evidence concerning nutritional factors, particularly lactation feeding that may reduce the loss of sow body reserves, affecting the growth of the next oocyte generation. In conclusion, decreasing birth weight and compromised immunity are subjects warranting investigation in the search for novel management tools. Furthermore, to increase litter uniformity, more focus should be placed on nutritional factors that affect IGF-1-driven follicle development before ovulation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.5187/jast.2021.e3DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7882835PMC
January 2021

Diagnosis of endometritis and cystitis in sows: use of biomarkers.

J Anim Sci 2020 Aug;98(Suppl 1):S107-S116

Department of Production Animal Medicine, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Helsinki, Saarentaus, Finland.

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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/jas/skaa144DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7433928PMC
August 2020

Management practices to optimize the parturition process in the hyperprolific sow.

J Anim Sci 2020 Aug;98(Suppl 1):S96-S106

Department of Production Animal Medicine, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Helsinki, Saarentaus, Finland.

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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/jas/skaa140DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7433923PMC
August 2020

Developments of reproductive management and biotechnology in the pig.

Anim Reprod 2019 Oct 23;16(3):524-538. Epub 2019 Oct 23.

Department Production Animal Medicine, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Helsinki, Finland.

This review aims to describe changes in production environment, management tools and technology to alleviate problems seen with the present hyperprolific sow model. Successful parturition in the pig includes the possibility to express adequate maternal behaviour, rapid expulsion of piglets, complete expulsion of placenta, elimination of uterine contamination and debris, neonatal activity and colostrum intake. We focus on management of large litters, including maternal behaviour, ease of parturition, colostrum production, piglet quality parameters and intermittent suckling. There are also some interesting developments in technology to assess colostrum and immune state of the piglet. These developments may be utilized to improve the success rate of reproductive management around farrowing, lactation and after weaning. We also discuss new insights in how to examine the health of the mammary gland, uterus and ovaries of hyperprolific sows. Finally, we assess the latest developments on breeding and technology of hyperprolific sows, including artificial insemination (AI), real-time ultrasound of the genital tract and embryo transfer (ET). We conclude that 1) for the sow to produce sufficient colostrum, both the behavioural and physiological needs of the sow need to be met before and after parturition. Furthermore, 2) new ultrasound and biopsy technology can be effectively applied for accurate diagnosis of inflammatory processes of the udder and uterus and timing of AI regarding ovulation to improve insemination efficiency. Finally, 3) developments in cryopreservation of germ cells and embryos appear promising but lack of valid oocyte collection techniques and nonsurgical ET techniques are a bottleneck to commercial ET. These latest developments in management of parturition and reproductive technology are necessary to cope with the increasing challenges associated with very large litter sizes.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.21451/1984-3143-AR2019-0055DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7234181PMC
October 2019

Progesterone and Luteinizing hormone secretion patterns in early pregnant gilts.

Reprod Domest Anim 2020 Jul 5;55(7):795-804. Epub 2020 Jun 5.

Department of Production Animal Medicine, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Helsinki, Saarentaus, Finland.

We studied luteinizing hormone (LH) pulsatility and episodic progesterone release of the corpus luteum (CL) on Day 11 and Day 21 in inseminated gilts and aimed to establish a relationship between these two hormones. Blood was collected at 15-min intervals for 12 hr on Days 11, 16 and 21 from a vena cava caudalis catheter. At euthanasia, eight gilts were pregnant and six gilts were not pregnant. Progesterone parameters (basal, mean, pulse frequency and pulse amplitude) did not differ between pregnant and non-pregnant gilts on Day 11, LH pulse frequency and amplitude tended to differ (p = .07 and p = .079). In pregnant gilts, basal and mean progesterone, progesterone pulse amplitude and frequency declined significantly from Day 11 to Day 21 (p < .05). A significant decline was also seen in the LH pulse amplitude from Day 11 to Day 21 (p < .05). None of the LH pulses was followed by a progesterone pulse within 1 hr on Day 21. On Day 11 and Day 21 appeared a synchronicity in the LH pulse pattern, as there were two or three LH pulses in 12 hr and these LH pulses appeared in the same time window. We conclude that on Day 11 and Day 21 of pregnancy in gilts, progesterone pulses do not follow an LH pulse within one hour. Further we demonstrated that the successful or not successful formation of a CL of pregnancy is independent of progesterone release on Day 11 after insemination. We confirmed the decline of progesterone from Day 11 to Day 21 in the vena cava caudalis and could demonstrate that this decline is partly due to lower progesterone pulse amplitude and frequency and that the decline occurs simultaneously with a decline in LH pulse amplitude.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/rda.13686DOI Listing
July 2020

Reproduction of group-housed sows.

Porcine Health Manag 2016 1;2:15. Epub 2016 Jul 1.

Unit of Porcine Health Management, Department of Reproduction, Obstetrics and Herd Health, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Ghent University Belgium, Ghent, Belgium.

The sow is a social animal in her behavior throughout the reproductive cycle. An exception to her preference for being a part of a social group occurs one to two1-2 d days prior to farrowing, when she separates from her group and seeks for isolation in order to build up a nest. She then spends the first week or two with her piglets, mainly in the nest. After this short period of separation of 1-2 weeks, she brings her litter with her and rejoins the group. In modern intensive pig production, the sow is often restricted to an individual cage for lactation and, in many European countries, she may still spend additional periods in stalls during pregnancy. In the intensive production, isolation of the sow from the rest of the group is therefore a relatively long period of six to ten6-10 weeks, which creates a challenge for the social memory of the sow. While grouping of sows during lactation is an interesting option, until now this is encountered mostly in organic or otherwise extensive farming systems, such as outdoor farming. However, the present society is asking for more animal friendly models of production and there appears to be more need for studies of group housing issues during lactation. Grouping of sows after weaning causes stress, which imposes risks for fertility. Thus, timing of grouping is probably very critical. It is well documented that the embryonic period of the pregnancy, lasting up to Day 35, is more vulnerable for loss of pregnancy than the subsequent fetal period. There are indications that stress of grouping may cause some harm to vitality parameters of blastocysts already while at the site of fertilization in the oviduct. Later on, during the critical periods of maternal recognition of pregnancy, endocrinological models testing maintenance of pregnancy suggest that chronic stress lasting for more than two2 days may cause abortion and loss of the whole litter. However, the sow may be resistant, in terms of her reproductive function, to acute stress lasting for hours or up to a day. In conclusion, grouping of sows during lactation may be of interest in the future. At present, issues of group housed sows after weaning and early pregnancy seem to be of most practical relevance. Chronic stress of sows lasting for more than two2 days may lead to loss of the whole litter.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s40813-016-0033-2DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5382509PMC
July 2016

The effects of ovarian biopsy and blood sampling methods on salivary cortisol and behaviour in sows.

Res Vet Sci 2017 Oct 11;114:80-85. Epub 2017 Mar 11.

Production Animal Hospital, Department of Production Animal Medicine, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Helsinki, Paroninkuja 20, 04920 Saarentaus, Finland.

In reproductive physiology research, experimental animals are often subjected to stressful procedures, including blood sampling and biopsy. In this present study, presence of pain or distress induced by four different procedures was examined using a measurement of salivary cortisol levels and activity observations in sows. The treatments were: 1) PAL: The ovary was palpated through the rectum without snaring, 2) TUB: transvaginal ultrasound-guided biopsy of the ovary was conducted without snaring, 3) SNA: a soft rope snare was placed around the maxilla, 4) CAT: A soft rope snare was placed around the maxilla, and an intravenous catheter was inserted through the ear vein of the sows. Activities, social cohesion and other pain-related behaviour, and salivary cortisol concentrations were recorded. Salivary cortisol concentrations in CAT sows increased in response to the procedure (P<0.05), whereas the other treatments did not trigger a significant response. The CAT sows had higher cortisol concentrations than the other groups for 10min after initiation of the procedures (P<0.01), and they maintained higher cortisol levels than the PAL and TUB groups 15min post-treatment (P<0.05). Furthermore, the CAT sows showed the highest frequency of head shaking (P<0.001) and trembling behaviour (P<0.05) during the 1h post-treatment. Summarizing, the catheterization procedure might induce a short-term pain or stress response during and after the procedure in terms of pain-related behaviour and salivary cortisol status. We suggest that TUB might not cause appreciable pain or distress.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.rvsc.2017.03.004DOI Listing
October 2017