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Reprod Domest Anim. 2010 Dec;45(6):1003-7. doi: 10.1111/j.1439-0531.2009.01476.x.

Advanced onset of puberty in gilts of thrifty genotype (Iberian pig).

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NUTEGA, Madrid, Spain.


The Iberian pig is an autochthonous breed of the Mediterranean area, reared extensively in the central and southern areas of Spain and Portugal and that is known worldwide for the production of Iberian ham. The characteristics of the Iberian ham are related to its abundance of intramuscular fat, owing to the high capacity of the pig to accumulate fat under its skin and between the muscular fibres. This ability to store excess fat enables survival during periods of scarcity and it has been found in other antique animal breeds and even in humans, being named as the thrifty genotype. The reproductive management of the Iberian pig, in spite of a lack of accurate information unlike in other swine breeds, is based on the assumption of lower reproductive precocity and efficiency than the modern commercial breeds. The current study characterized and compared the onset of puberty in gilts of Iberian breed and meat commercial crosses (Large White × Landrace) reared in the same conditions by assessing weekly plasma progesterone profiles. At the end of the experimental period, when the gilts became 180 days old, the percentage of Iberian females that had reached puberty was 72.2%, with a mean age and weight of 160.5 ± 2.6 days and 92.9 ± 4.7 kg, respectively. The percentage of Large White × Landrace cross-breed females reaching puberty at 180 days was only 15% (p < 0.05). The mean age and weight were 165.0 ± 4.1 days and 107.8 ± 2.2 kg (p < 0.05), respectively. Thus, converse to the traditional assumption, onset of puberty was advanced in Iberian gilts. These results are important for the reproductive management of the Iberian pig but, at the same time, may set the basis for future studies on the metabolism-reproduction link and, specifically, on the possible relationship between earlier accumulation of fat and attainment of puberty.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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