WP1: Pre- and postnatal development


Generate new knowledge on the phenotypic and metabolic background of IUGR and low BtW and identify and evaluate perinatal nutritional/supplemental strategies to improve pigs and poultry’ survival, growth and development.

To achieve this aim, 3 objectives and 6 tasks are defined:

1.1) Identify and characterize the subpopulation of pigs and poultry with poor growth potential. Research will focus on IUGR/low BtW piglets and on chickens suffering with body imbalance and underweight broilers at d 7 [Task 1.1 ,Task 1.2].

1.2) Identify determinant factors impacting dynamics of growth [Task 1.3].

1.3) Develop nutritional strategies to improve early development (pigs and poultry) and immunity acquisition (pigs) with special emphasis on the subpopulation of animals with reduced viability at birth [Task 1.4, Task 1.5, Task 1.6].



ESR1 will collate an extensive data set of dams (parity, litter size of previous parities, number of low [< 1.1 kg] BtW pigs), new born piglets (BtW) and the early growth kinetic (weekly average daily gain from birth to weaning). For this task, an extensive data set from 4 beneficiaries (Teagasc, AFBI, FBN, WBF-A: data from > 400 sows over 5 yrs. ~ 4000 litters) will be available. This data set will be used to set up a Linear Mixed Effect Model including growth kinetic as influencing factors. In a following step the Linear Mixed Effect Model will be validated and additional phenotypic traits, e.g. head morphology, head to tail size and blood metabolome will be assessed [D1.2].


ESR10 will monitor BW, feed intake, and growth as well as the extent of BW dispersion in a flock of broilers for the whole production life (d 1-42). Specifically, birds which rank as low BW and high BW relative to the average BW of the cohort will be identified at d 7 post-hatch and monitored throughout a growth cycle to establish relative weight gain dynamics. A subsample of birds will be euthanized either at d 7 or 42 to establish the relationship between the development of the GIT, ancillary organs and whole-body composition. Linear regression analyses will be conducted to establish the relationship between BW gain in early and later life. The influence of BW on day of arrival and d 7 on whole life growth performance will be determined. Carcass characteristics including lean meat content, relative muscle weight and basic meat quality assessments will be carried out on low and high BW groups at d 42 [D 1 . 1 ]. Using findings generated in T2.1 (GIT function, composition of selected microbial taxa from underweight and normal weight broilers), 1 nutritional intervention and 1 pro-/prebiotic strategy will be developed to redress underperforming broilers [D 1.8].


  • D 1.1: Biological factors for growth variation determined |

  • D 1.2: Validated statistical model depicting IUGR/low BtW pigs |

  • D 1.3: Optimal incubation temperature for optimal muscle development determined |

  • D 1.4: Pig growth performance, intestinal characteristics and metabolic profile at birth, during and after neonatal glutamine supplementation available |

  • D1.5: Impact of in ovo injected pre-and/or probiotics on post hatch development available |

  • D1.6: Effect of different supplementary milk systems on pre-weaning survival of IUGR/low BtW piglets completed (ESR9); |

  • D1.7: Effect of pro-/prebiotic supplementation on sows and offspring performance completed |

  • D1.8: Nutritional intervention for underperforming broilers tested |

  • D 1.9: Prenatal incubation program supporting sustainable broiler production available |