An assessment of the effects of dietary folic acid supplementation on serum folates status, conceptus development and reproductive performance in gilts and sows
Harper, Allen F.
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The effects of dietary folic acid supplementation on serum folate status, conceptus development and reproductive performance in gilts and sows was investigated in a series of experiments. The specific objectives of the study were to: 1) to study the serum folates profile following rapid consumption of a single meal containing different levels of supplemental folic acid; 2) to study the effects of maternal folic acid supplementation on conceptus survival, growth and development prior to mid-gestation in gilts and sows; and 3) to study the effects of multiple levels of dietary folic acid supplementation on sow reproductive performance over four successive parities. In the first experiment (Chapter III), gilts fed a single, rapidly consumed meal, had a rapid increase in serum folates concentration during the first hour postprandial. Within eight hours after feeding, serum folates in the gilts had returned to near prefeeding levels. The results also suggest that supplementing the diet with increasing levels of folic acid over a range of 0 to 4 ppm results in more rapid postprandial uptake and elimination of folic acid from general circulation. In the second experiment (Chapter IV), supplementing the diet of first parity and third parity breeding sows with 2 ppm folic acid had no effect on litter size at day 45 of gestation. However, several measurements associated with placental and fetal growth were increased with folic acid supplementation. Results of a fifth parity trial with four levels of supplemental folic acid were variable and inconclusive. The implications of increased placental and fetal growth up to day 45 of gestation in the first and third parity sows is discussed. In the third experiment (Chapter V), a decline in serum folate concentration in pregnant sows from mating to mid- to late gestation was clearly demonstrated. Supplementing the sow's diet with folic acid over a range of 0 to 4 ppm resulted in a linear increase in serum folate concentration at mating, during gestation and at weaning. However, under the conditions of this experiment, folic acid supplementation had no significant effect on sow reproductive performance.
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