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The effect of vitamin E supplementation on the libido and reproductive capacity of Large White boars

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The effect of vitamin E supplementation on the libido and reproductive capacity of Large White boars

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In this study the effect of dietary supplementation of vitamin E on libido, servicing capacity (SC), sperm quality and serum α-tocopherol of Large White boars was evaluated. Twenty four boars were divided into three groups of eight boars each. Groups were randomly allocated to treatment groups, i.e. 0, 40 or 70 IU of dl-α-tocopheryl acetate/kg of diet. Libido was defined as the time from intromission to ejaculation being recorded as the reaction time (RT) in minutes. Serving capacity (SC) was measured by number of mounts, combats, head-kicks, anogenital sniffs during a 30 min test period. Semen was collected by the use of an artificial vagina following the SC test, and afterwards analyzed for quantitative and qualitative parameters. The 70 IU supplementation of dietary vitamin E per kg diet to pigs resulted in the highest number of mounts, combats, head-kicks and anogenital sniffs with the shortest RT in comparison to the 40 and 0 IU vitamin E supplementation. The 70 IU vitamin E boar group produced semen with the highest semen volume, sperm cell motility, progressive movement, acrosomal normal apical ridge (NAR), percentage live sperm, sperm concentration per mL semen volume and total number of sperm per ejaculate and improved serum α-tocopherol concentrations (5.1 ± 0.5 µg/mL). Results suggest that supplementing 70 IU per kg α-tocopheryl acetate in boar diets appears to be most beneficial in optimizing libido and reproductive capacity in breeding boars.
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South African Journal of Animal Science 2012, 42 (Issue 5, Supplement 1)
Peer-reviewed paper: Proc. 44th Congress of the South African Society for Animal Science
URL: http://www.sasas.co.za Guest editor: C.J.C. Muller
ISSN 0375-1589 (print), ISSN 222-4062 (online)
Publisher: South African Society for Animal Science http://dx.doi.org/10.4314/sajas.v42i5.24
The effect of vitamin E supplementation on the libido and reproductive capacity of
Large White boars
D.O. Umesiobi
Department of Agriculture, Central University of Technology, Free State, Private Bag X20539,
Bloemfontein 9300, South Africa
__________________________________________________________________________________
Abstract
In this study the effect of dietary supplementation of vitamin E on libido, servicing capacity (SC), sperm
quality and serum α-tocopherol of Large White boars was evaluated. Twenty four boars were divided into three
groups of eight boars each. Groups were randomly allocated to treatment groups, i.e. 0, 40 or 70 IU of dl-α-
tocopheryl acetate/kg of diet. Libido was defined as the time from intromission to ejaculation being recorded as
the reaction time (RT) in minutes. Serving capacity (SC) was measured by number of mounts, combats, head-
kicks, anogenital sniffs during a 30 min test period. Semen was collected by the use of an artificial vagina
following the SC test, and afterwards analyzed for quantitative and qualitative parameters. The 70 IU
supplementation of dietary vitamin E per kg diet to pigs resulted in the highest number of mounts, combats,
head-kicks and anogenital sniffs with the shortest RT in comparison to the 40 and 0 IU vitamin E
supplementation. The 70 IU vitamin E boar group produced semen with the highest semen volume, sperm cell
motility, progressive movement, acrosomal normal apical ridge (NAR), percentage live sperm, sperm
concentration per mL semen volume and total number of sperm per ejaculate and improved serum α-tocopherol
concentrations (5.1 ± 0.5 μg/mL). Results suggest that supplementing 70 IU per kg α-tocopheryl acetate in boar
diets appears to be most beneficial in optimizing libido and reproductive capacity in breeding boars.
Keywords: Boars, dl-α-tocopheryl acetate, reaction time, servicing capacity, sperm viability
Corresponding author: umesiobi@cut.ac.za
Introduction
It has been suggested that vitamin E is an essential nutrient that should be included in pig diets
(McDowell, 2002; Umesiobi, 2009) to enhance body immunity (Giguère et al., 2002), metabolism (McDowell,
2002) and reproduction (Umesiobi, 2009). In addition vitamin E improves spermatogenesis and semen quality
(Marin-Guzman et al., 2000; Wallock et al., 2001; Wilson et al., 2001) and possibly the fertilization of oocytes
in the female (Umesiobi, 2009).
However, the optimal level of vitamin E needed to improve the function of the reproductive system in
boars seems to be highly variable, mostly because of several factors such as the composition of the diet, feed
consumption (Umesiobi, 2009), growth rate (McDowell, 2002) and husbandry conditions or stress (Flowers,
2002) which exert some influence on conception rate and litter size. In this study, the effect of dietary
supplementation of vitamin E on libido, as observed through reaction time (RT), servicing capacity (SC), sperm
quality and serum α-tocopherol concentration in boars, was investigated.
Copyright resides with the authors in terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 South African Licence.
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of Animal Science
Umesiobi, 2012. S. Afr. J. Anim. Sci., vol. 42 (Suppl. 1)
560
Materials and Methods
Thirty Large White boars were randomly chosen and maintained for breeding experiments at a
commercial pig unit at Tierpoort near Bloemfontein in the Free State Province. Tierpoort is situated at an altitude
of 1351 m, 29º06' latitude South and 26º18' longitude East.
At three months of age at a live weight of approximately 30 kg, boars were divided into three groups.
Groups were randomly allocated to the treatment groups. The treatments consisted of three levels of vitamin E
supplementation, i.e. 0, 40 or 70 IU dl-α-tocopheryl acetate/kg of diet. The treatment diets were provided
following the procedures of Marin-Guzman et al. (2000) and Umesiobi (2009). The composition of the diets
used in the trial is presented in Table 1.
Table 1 The composition of diets fed to boars at different growth stages (BW = body weight)
Ingredients 30 - 130 kg BWa ≥ 130 kg BWb
Maize meal (%)
75.3
65.9
Soybean meal (45% CP)
20.0
25.0
Lard
-
4.5
Dicalcium phosphate
2.6
2.5
Limestone 0.75 0.75
Selenium premix
0.15
0.15
Trace minerals
0.50
0.50
Vitamin premix
0.20
0.20
Vitamin E premixc
+
+
Antibiotics
0.50
0.50
aCalculated analysis: 165 g CP, 9.5 g lysine, 10 g Ca, 8 g P/kg diet.
bCalculated analysis: 140 g CP, 6.5 g lysine, 10 g Ca, 8 g P/kg diet.
cVitamin E premix contained 44000 IU dl-α-tocopheryl acetate/kg diet and was added at the appropriate level to supply: 40
or 70 IU dl-α-tocopheryl acetate/kg of the diet at the expense of maize meal.
Libido was recorded during a 30-min pen test as the time from intromission to ejaculation following a 30
min of sexual restraint (recorded time in minutes).
A total of 960 ejaculate samples were collected with the gloved hand method from 24 boars (32 ejaculates
per boar) immediately after libido tests. Semen was tested for total volume, percentage of progressively motile
sperm, normal acrosome, live sperm, sperm concentrations and spot examination of sperm motility at X400
magnification using clean pre-heated microscope slides. Motility was evaluated in two ways: (1) as a percentage
of progressively moving sperm using phase-contrast microscopy and (2) by type of sperm movement, graded on
a scale of 0 - 9. Acrosome integrity was assessed according to the guidelines described by Foote (2003) and rated
as normal apical ridge (NAR), damaged apical ridge (DAR), missing apical ridge (MAR) or loose acrosomal cap
(LAC).
Immediately after sexual capacity tests, all the boars (n = 24) were bled (8 mL/boar) by puncturing the
jugular vein or the anterior vena cava (Giguère et al., 2002). The blood was collected in a glass container once
per week for 32 weeks to evaluate haematological, α-tocopherols and selenium (Se) concentrations. Aliquots of
the blood samples (lymphocytes and neutrophils) were analyzed with the procedures of Marin-Guzman et al.
(2000). The selenium level was determined with the method of Mahan (1994) using a spectroflourometer.
Statistical analyses were performed using the General Linear Model procedure (McDonald, 2008).
Differences between treatment means were tested for significance using the procedures of McDonald (2008).
Umesiobi, 2012. S. Afr. J. Anim. Sci., vol. 42 (Suppl. 1)
561
Results and Discussion
Supplemental vitamin E levels affected (P <0.01) boar libido as indicated by the reaction time (RT) and
respective reproductive indices. Boars fed with 70 IU/kg of vitamin E supplemented diet attained faster reaction
time, more mounts, combats, head-kicks and anogenital sniffing than boars in 0 and 40 IU/kg of vitamin E
supplementation groups (Table 2). This result supports the hypothesis that higher levels of dietary vitamin E
supplementation to boars stimulate their underlying sexual motivation, and provides a meaningful measure of
mating competence in boars (Jacyno & Kawecka, 2002).
Table 2 Effects of various levels of dietary vitamin E supplementation to boars on (mean ± SE) reproductive
capacity tests exemplified by reaction time, agonistic behaviour and anogenital sniffs
Parameters Levels of vitamin E supplementation (IU/kg diet)
0 40 70
Reaction time/30 min (min)
15.2a ± 5.1
7.5b ± 0.6
Mounts (frequency)
4.9a ± 0.7
8.7b ± 3.1
Combats (frequency)
2.7a ± 0.5
3.9b ± 0.1
Head-kicks (frequency)
4.6a ± 3.4
6.2b ± 6.3
Anogenital sniffs (bout frequency/30 min)
7.2a ± 1.9
9.5b ± 0.5
a, b, cMeans within rows with different superscripts differ at P <0.01.
The study indicated that vitamin E supplementation resulted in improved (P <0.05) ejaculate volume
(Table 3), mostly in boars fed with 70 IU/kg of vitamin E supplemented diet. These values are in agreement with
the reports that the quantity of semen produced by male animals is not only dependent on the amount of sexual
excitement but also upon a number of other factors, such as the dietary regimen (Wilson et al., 2001; Umesiobi
2009) and ejaculation frequency (Flowers, 2002).
Table 3 Effects of various levels of dietary Vitamin E supplementation to boars on (mean ± SE) semen viability
and acrosomal integrity
Parameters Levels of vitamin E supplementation (IU/kg diet)
0 40 70
Ejaculate volume (mL)
133.3a ± 4.1
278.4b ± 2.7
Sperm motility (%)
72.5a ± 0.4
80.7b ± 0.9
Progressive movement (scoring 0- 9) 5.3
a
± 0.9 6.4
b
± 0.4 8.1
± 0.5
Normal acrosomal apical ridge (%)
75.4a ± 0.5
81.2b ± 6.5
Live sperm (%)
75.5a ± 0.2
79.3b ± 0.5
Sperm concentration (X 106/mL)
411.9a ± 63.2
450.2b ± 60.1
Total sperm count (X 109)
50.8a ± 2.9
60.6b ± 2.2
a, b, c Means within rows with different superscripts differ at P <0.05.
Umesiobi, 2012. S. Afr. J. Anim. Sci., vol. 42 (Suppl. 1)
562
Supplementing boars’ diet with vitamin E produced significant effects in semen viability and normal
acrosome, with the highest values recorded in 70 IU/kg supplementation boar group. These results are in line
with Marin-Guzman et al. (2000) who found that high levels of dietary vitamin E supplementation effectively
prevented the sperm from changing in morphological structure and acrosomal defects, possibly because vitamin
E acts as an intracellular antioxidant (McDowell, 2002). It also acts as a precursor to certain thromboxanes,
prostaglandins, leukotrienes and immunoglobulins, which consequently promote spermatogenesis and acrosomal
integrity (Umesiobi, 2009).
The significant increases noticed in the seru m α-tocopherol concentrations in boars with the body weight
of 130 and 200 kg (at approximately 1 - 1.5 years of age) supports the reports by Tao et al. (2004) who indicated
that concentrations of plasma α-tocopherol were higher in pigs with a prolonged feeding of vitamin E
supplemented diets. The activity of the selenium in the serum of 30 kg (3 month-old) boars was very low despite
the fact that the boars’ feed had been supplemented with 0.15 mg selenium/kg. This record supports Marin-
Guzman et al. (2000) who noted that due to the inherently low levels of selenium in the serum of younger pigs,
the selenium status of younger boars might be more critical for their health than their vitamin E profile.
Conclusion
The results of this study indicate that feeding boars with diets supplemented with vitamin E is a practical
method for optimising libido, servicing capacity and sperm viability in breeding sires. Boars receiving diets
supplemented with 70 IU of vitamin E/kg feed had the shortest reaction time, highest number of mounts,
combats, head-kicks, anogenital sniffs and optimum semen quality in comparison to boars receiving diets with 0
and 40 IU vitamin E/kg feed. It is recommended that routine checks be conducted to determine the Se levels in
the serum of young pigs. More so, since vitamin E and selenium act synergistically, vitamin E supplementation
does not completely eliminate the need for selenium in the diets of pigs.
Acknowledgements
Sincere gratitude is expressed to the Central University of Technology, Free State for the Innovation
Research Grant (GL No. 3790/4352) and Award, as well as C.M. Nyachoti for inviting the author to his Animal
Nutrition Physiology Laboratory at the University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Canada R3T 2N2.
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... A quadratic increase in semen volume imply that supplementing α-tocopherol beyond 70 IU/kg undermines the semen volume. The present study concurs with findings obtained by Umesiobi (2012) who reported an increase in semen volume when Large White boars were supplemented with 70 IU/kg. Vitamin E improves spermatogenesis and semen quality (Marin-Guzman et al. 2000). ...
... A quadratic increase in live spermatozoa suggests that including α-tocopherol beyond 70 IU/kg compromises livability of spermatozoa. An increase in live spermatozoa found in the current study correspond well with finds by Umesiobi (2012) who reported a highest semen viability and normal acrosome in boars supplemented with 70-IU/kg vitamin E. Bréque et al. (2003) indicated that number of abnormal and dead spermatozoa was lower in quails fed with a diet containing 150 IU/kg of vitamin E. These abovementioned findings by Bréque et al. (2003) support the outcomes of the present study that increasing levels of α-tocopherol decreased dead spermatozoa and head abnormalities. Didion (2008) indicated that when more than 30% abnormal spermatozoa in the semen, fertility is suppressed. ...
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The influence of the number and qual- ity of spermatozoa inseminated on litter size in swine is examined in this paper. There is evidence to support the following observations. Litter size varies among boars when insemination doses contain the same num- bers of spermatozoa. Increasing the number of sperm inseminated generally has a positive effect on the num- ber of pigs born alive, especially between the range of 1t o 3× 109 cells. The manner in which litter size re- sponds to increasing the number of spermatozoa insem- inated varies among boars. These relationships be- tween the number of sperm inseminated and the re- sulting litter size provide credence to the idea that boars exhibit unique fertility patterns. These divergent fertil- ity patterns probably reflect variability in the ability of spermatozoa from different boars to fertilize ova. A number of semen quality tests have been developed to estimate the fertility of semen. Several of these have documented that increases in estimates in sperm qual- ity are associated with increases in litter size. However, the relative effectiveness of each of these for determin- ing the optimal number of spermatozoa that should be included in insemination doses remains to be eluci- dated. In summary, increasing the fertilization rate of boars should be possible by improving semen quality, increasing the number of spermatozoa inseminated, and adjusting using estimates of sperm quality to ad- just number of sperm inseminated. However, the mag- nitude of changes in litter size resulting from these strategies is likely to vary considerably among boars. is physiologically reasonable to assume that there are two basic characteristics that are directly responsible for a boar's influence on litter size: the number of sper- matozoa inseminated and the proportion of these that can successfully engage ova. The latter of these is often referred to as the quality of spermatozoa and can be estimated in a variety of different ways, including the monitoring of several physical and biochemical traits that allow spermatozoa to fertilize ova.
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A study involving 360 farrowings over a five-parity period evaluated the effects of dietary vitamin E on sow reproductive performance and the subsequent effects on serum, colostrum, and milk tocopherol contents. The 2 x 3 split-split-plot experiment was conducted at two locations that differed in the type of facility (indoor gestation pens/farrowing crates [IP/FC] or outside gestation lots/indoor farrowing pens [OL/FP]) and three dietary levels of dl-alpha-tocopheryl acetate (22, 44, or 66 IU/kg of diet), with five parities nested within sow in a repeated measure design. Sow serum alpha-tocopherol, Se, and glutathione peroxidase (GSH-Px) activity were measured at 30 and 90 d postcoitum and at 21 d postpartum (weaning) during each parity. Colostrum and 7-, 14-, and 21-d milk samples were analyzed for alpha- and gamma-tocopherol and Se concentrations. Three pigs per litter were bled at weaning and their serum was analyzed for alpha-tocopherol and Se concentrations and GSH-Px activity. The results indicated that sow weights and daily lactation feed intakes or litter birth and weaning weights were not affected by dietary vitamin E levels provided to the sow. There was an increased number of pigs born (total, P < .01; live, P < .10) when dietary vitamin E was increased. The incidence of mastitis, metritis, and agalactia decreased (P < .05) as dietary vitamin E was increased. The incidence of mastitis, metritis, and agalactia decreased (P < .05) as dietary vitamin E increased was higher (P < .05) with first- and second-litter sows, and was higher (P < .01) at the location that had the OL/FP facility. Colostrum and milk alpha-tocopherol increased (P < .01) as dietary vitamin E increased. Milk alpha-tocopherol declined linearly (P < .01) from 7 to 21 d postpartum in a parallel manner between dietary vitamin E levels. At weaning, pig serum alpha-tocopherol increased (P < .01) as sow dietary vitamin E level increased. These results support a higher dietary level of vitamin E than currently recommended by NRC (1988) for both gestating and lactating sows.
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To measure folate levels in seminal plasma from smokers and nonsmokers and to evaluate relationships between seminal plasma folate levels and both folate nutriture and semen quality measures. Observational study. United States Department of Agriculture, Western Human Nutrition Research Center, Presidio of San Francisco, San Francisco, California. Healthy male smokers (n=24) and nonsmokers (n=24). Blood levels of plasma folate and homocysteine, seminal plasma total, non-methyl- and 5-methyltetrahydrofolate concentrations, and total sperm count and density. Total seminal plasma folate concentrations were on average 1.5 times higher than blood plasma folate concentrations in all men. Seminal plasma folates contained 5-methyltetrahyrdofolate (74% of total) and non-methyltetrahydrofolates (26% of total); all samples had less than four glutamyl residues. Total and 5-methyltetrahydrofolate concentrations correlated significantly with blood plasma folate and homocysteine concentrations. Seminal plasma non-methyltetrahydrofolate levels correlated significantly with sperm density and total sperm count. Seminal plasma of smokers contained a proportionally lower concentration of non-methyltetrahydrofolates compared with nonsmokers. Seminal plasma total folate and 5-methyltetrahydrofolate concentrations reflect folate nutriture. The non-methyltetrahydrofolate fraction of seminal plasma may be important for male reproductive function.