A presentation at the Midwest Animal Science meeting in Des Moines this week indicated that walking gestating sows might improve the fertility of Yorkshire pigs. According to research presented by Samantha Kaminski, a graduate student at North Dakota State University, swine fetuses showed significant ovarian development after their mothers exercised.

It’s known that uterine blood flow could impact blood flow to the ovaries of developing fetuses. To further study that relationship, Kaminski and fellow researchers designed an exercise program to increase blood flow.

Fifteen sows were bred to a boar and exercised between 40 and 105 days of gestation. Sows were then walked for 30 minutes a day, three times a week. This exercise regimen was followed with two generations of pigs.

In the first generation, researchers studied ovaries from baby pigs, growing pigs and 6-month-old gilts looking at ovarian weight, cell proliferation and types of developing cells to compare how exercise might affect ovarian development.

The analysis showed more cell proliferation in the group from the exercised sows.

For the second generation, the researchers studied the ovaries from developing fetuses on Day 94 of gestation. Again there was more cell proliferation in the ovaries of fetuses from exercised sows.

Kaminski acknowledges it’s impractical to walk sows in a production unit, but suggests the regimen being tested would be very similar to what a group sow setting would be like for sows.

She recommends future research should determine if cell proliferation is a good indicator of future fertili