Animal Reproduction (AR)
Animal Reproduction (AR)

Ultrasound measurements of uterine height, horns diameter and presence of intraluminal fluid to investigate uterine involution in lactating sows housed in farrowing crates

Pierre Thilmant; Dominiek Maes; Jean-François Beckers; Evelyne Moyse; Frédéric Farnir; Johann Detilleux; Martine Laitat

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The uterine involution of sows housed in farrowing crates was investigated during lactation using B-mode trans-abdominal ultrasonography. The objectives were to describe uterine involution, detect any delay or uterine disorders and assess possible associations between involution and subsequent reproductive performance. Three parameters were measured: uterine height (H), horns diameter (D) and the percentage of sows with intraluminal fluid (F). During lactation (3-4 weeks), H decreased from 11.0±1.6 the first week to 5.9±1.5 cm the last week (p<0.001), and D from 2.6±0.7 to 1.4±0.2 cm (p<0.001). Between days 1-7, H and D decreased significantly faster, i.e. respectively 0.38 cm (p<0.0001) and 0.20 cm (p<0.0001) per day than between days 22-28, i.e. respectively 0.02 cm (p=0.49) and 0.00 cm (p=0.75) per day. F decreased significantly (p<0.0001) from 78% at the beginning to 16% at the end of lactation. Between days 1-7, F decreased significantly (p<0.001) faster than during the last week of lactation (p=0.41). Between days 22-28, H of sows from parity ≥3 were significantly higher than those of sows from parity 1 and 2 (p=0.007). During that period, F was significantly higher in sows of higher parity. This effect of parity on F was significantly higher during the entire lactation period in sows of parity ≥6. Some sows were monitored after weaning. There was no significant relationship between the 3 parameters measured at the end of lactation and the subsequent performance. A small number of sows was suspected of endometritis (2%) and one case of fœtoplacental retention was detected. In conclusion, B-mode ultrasonography is a suitable tool to monitor uterine involution in lactating sows. When examination is conducted during the last week of lactation, it may help the farmer to verify whether uterine involution is complete, and to decide whether a sow should be either culled or maintained on farm.


lactating sow, reproduction, swine, ultrasonography, uterine involution


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