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Assessment of visceral organ growth in pigs from birth through 150 kg

  • Elefson, Sarah K1
  • Lu, Ning1
  • Chevalier, Tyler1
  • Dierking, Shannon1
  • Wang, Ding1
  • Monegue, H James1
  • Matthews, Jamie C1
  • Jang, Young Dal1
  • Chen, Jun1
  • Rentfrow, Gregg K1
  • Adedokun, Sunday A1
  • Lindemann, Merlin D1
  • 1 Department of Animal and Food Sciences, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY 40546 , (United States)
Published Article
Journal of Animal Science
Oxford University Press
Publication Date
Aug 26, 2021
DOI: 10.1093/jas/skab249
PMID: 34435641
PMCID: PMC8438542
PubMed Central
  • AcademicSubjects/SCI00960


Visceral organs (VO) are essential for their role in the metabolism and distribution of consumed nutrients as well as other life functions in animals. Two experiments were conducted to assess the natural longitudinal changes that the VO undergo from birth through 150 kg body weight (BW). In Experiment 1, a total of 96 crossbred pigs were euthanized at birth (pre-suckle), d 1, 2, 3, 5, 7, 14, 21 (weaning), 22, 23, 24, 26, 28, 42, 49, and 63 of age. In Experiment 2, a total of 48 crossbred pigs were euthanized at 30, 50, 75, 100, 125, and 150 kg of BW. The absolute weight of VO, and the volume and length of the gastrointestinal tract (GIT) were measured. In both experiments, the absolute weight of VO, GIT length, and their volume increased (linear, quadratic, and/or cubic, P < 0.05) as BW and age increased. In Experiment 1, the relative weight of VO (liver, kidney, heart, and lung) decreased after initially increasing within the first week of life (linear, quadratic, and/or cubic, P < 0.05), whereas the relative weight of all VO decreased as BW increased in Experiment 2 (linear and/or quadratic, P < 0.05). The relative length of small intestine decreased and that of large intestine increased as age increased in Experiment 1 (linear and quadratic, P < 0.05), whereas the relative length of the small and large intestine in Experiment 2 were relatively constant at 80% and 20% of the total length of the intestine, respectively. As age and BW increased, the relative volume of the large intestine to the total volume of the GIT increased (linear and/or quadratic, P < 0.05), while the relative volume of the small intestine decreased (linear and/or quadratic, P < 0.05). In conclusion, results showed that both absolute and relative measurements (weight, volume, and length) of VO were dependent on the BW (age) of the pig.

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