Growth and reproductive performance, during exposure to ammonia, of gilts afflicted with pneumonia and atrophic rhinitis

M. A. Diekman From the Department of Animal Sciences (Diekman, Sutton, Green, Clapper, Kelly), Veterinary Clinical Sciences (Scheidt), and Veterinary Pathobiology (Van Alstine), Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN 47907.

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A. B. Scheidt From the Department of Animal Sciences (Diekman, Sutton, Green, Clapper, Kelly), Veterinary Clinical Sciences (Scheidt), and Veterinary Pathobiology (Van Alstine), Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN 47907.

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A. L. Sutton From the Department of Animal Sciences (Diekman, Sutton, Green, Clapper, Kelly), Veterinary Clinical Sciences (Scheidt), and Veterinary Pathobiology (Van Alstine), Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN 47907.

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M. L. Green From the Department of Animal Sciences (Diekman, Sutton, Green, Clapper, Kelly), Veterinary Clinical Sciences (Scheidt), and Veterinary Pathobiology (Van Alstine), Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN 47907.

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J. A. Clapper From the Department of Animal Sciences (Diekman, Sutton, Green, Clapper, Kelly), Veterinary Clinical Sciences (Scheidt), and Veterinary Pathobiology (Van Alstine), Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN 47907.

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D. T. Kelly From the Department of Animal Sciences (Diekman, Sutton, Green, Clapper, Kelly), Veterinary Clinical Sciences (Scheidt), and Veterinary Pathobiology (Van Alstine), Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN 47907.

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W. G. Van Alstine From the Department of Animal Sciences (Diekman, Sutton, Green, Clapper, Kelly), Veterinary Clinical Sciences (Scheidt), and Veterinary Pathobiology (Van Alstine), Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN 47907.

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Summary

From 2 to 4.5 months of age, 80 crossbred gilts were reared in a conventional grower unit where they were naturally exposed to mycoplasmal and bacterial pathogens that cause pneumonia and atrophic rhinitis. At 4.5 months of age, gilts were moved to environmentally regulated rooms (4.9 × 7.3 m) and assigned at random to 1 of 2 treatment groups: low aerial concentration of ammonia (4 to 12 ppm; mean, 7 ppm) or moderate aerial concentration of ammonia (26 to 45 ppm, mean, 35 ppm).

Low concentration of ammonia was obtained by flushing of manure pits weekly, whereas moderate concentration of ammonia was maintained by adding anhydrous ammonia to manure pits that were not flushed. Gilts were weighed biweekly. Mean daily gain (mdg) was less (P < 0.01) for gilts exposed to moderate concentration of ammonia than for gilts exposed to low concentration of ammonia after 2 weeks in their respective environments. By 4 and 6 weeks, however, mdg was similar between the 2 treatment groups.

After 6 weeks in these environments, 20 gilts from each treatment group were slaughtered, and prevalence and severity of lung lesions and snout grades were determined. At slaughter, body weight was greater (P < 0.01) in gilts exposed to low, rather than moderate, ammonia concentration (94.5 vs 86.8 kg; sem, 3.3 kg). Percentage of lung tissue containing lesions (18 vs 12) and snout grade (2.8 vs 3.1) were similar between gilts exposed to low or moderate concentration of ammonia.

The remaining 20 gilts in each treatment group were maintained in their respective environments, exposed daily to mature boars and bred at first estrus. Age at puberty was similar between gilts exposed to low or moderate concentration of ammonia (208 vs 205 days; sem, 1.3 days), even though weight at puberty was less (P < 0.03) for gilts exposed to low concentration of ammonia than for gilts exposed to moderate concentration of ammonia (109.7 vs 118.2 kg; sem, 4.5 kg). At day 30 of gestation, number of live fetuses (10.6 vs 11.7), fetal length (2.53 vs 2.57 cm), and fetus-to-corpus luteum ratio (0.85 vs 0.78) were similar between gilts at low and moderate ammonia environments. These data indicate that exposure of gilts to mean aerial ammonia concentration of 35 ppm in environmentally regulated rooms depressed mdg for 2 weeks, but failed to alter onset of puberty or litter size at day 30 of gestation.

Summary

From 2 to 4.5 months of age, 80 crossbred gilts were reared in a conventional grower unit where they were naturally exposed to mycoplasmal and bacterial pathogens that cause pneumonia and atrophic rhinitis. At 4.5 months of age, gilts were moved to environmentally regulated rooms (4.9 × 7.3 m) and assigned at random to 1 of 2 treatment groups: low aerial concentration of ammonia (4 to 12 ppm; mean, 7 ppm) or moderate aerial concentration of ammonia (26 to 45 ppm, mean, 35 ppm).

Low concentration of ammonia was obtained by flushing of manure pits weekly, whereas moderate concentration of ammonia was maintained by adding anhydrous ammonia to manure pits that were not flushed. Gilts were weighed biweekly. Mean daily gain (mdg) was less (P < 0.01) for gilts exposed to moderate concentration of ammonia than for gilts exposed to low concentration of ammonia after 2 weeks in their respective environments. By 4 and 6 weeks, however, mdg was similar between the 2 treatment groups.

After 6 weeks in these environments, 20 gilts from each treatment group were slaughtered, and prevalence and severity of lung lesions and snout grades were determined. At slaughter, body weight was greater (P < 0.01) in gilts exposed to low, rather than moderate, ammonia concentration (94.5 vs 86.8 kg; sem, 3.3 kg). Percentage of lung tissue containing lesions (18 vs 12) and snout grade (2.8 vs 3.1) were similar between gilts exposed to low or moderate concentration of ammonia.

The remaining 20 gilts in each treatment group were maintained in their respective environments, exposed daily to mature boars and bred at first estrus. Age at puberty was similar between gilts exposed to low or moderate concentration of ammonia (208 vs 205 days; sem, 1.3 days), even though weight at puberty was less (P < 0.03) for gilts exposed to low concentration of ammonia than for gilts exposed to moderate concentration of ammonia (109.7 vs 118.2 kg; sem, 4.5 kg). At day 30 of gestation, number of live fetuses (10.6 vs 11.7), fetal length (2.53 vs 2.57 cm), and fetus-to-corpus luteum ratio (0.85 vs 0.78) were similar between gilts at low and moderate ammonia environments. These data indicate that exposure of gilts to mean aerial ammonia concentration of 35 ppm in environmentally regulated rooms depressed mdg for 2 weeks, but failed to alter onset of puberty or litter size at day 30 of gestation.

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