The aim of this study was to determine relationships between sow backfat depth, plasma leptin concentrations, and reproductive performance after weaning. On the day of farrowing (day 0), and at weaning (day 21), single blood samples were obtained from 120 mixed-parity sows and their backfat depth (P2) measured. Based on backfat depth at day 0, sows were classified as FAT (>24 mm, n = 16), MEDIUM (16-24 mm, n = 54), or THIN (<16 mm, n = 14). Sows were further classified on the basis of P2 backfat changes during lactation of <2 mm, 2-4 mm, or >4 mm. Reproductive performance was measured as weaning-to-oestrous intervals (WOI) of <6 d, 6-9 days, or ≥10 d, and pregnancy rates. There was a positive relationship (P < 0.0001) between backfat depth at day 0 and backfat loss during lactation. The WOI was not associated with backfat depth at day 0 or 21 (P > 0.1 for both). Pregnancy rate was not associated with backfat depth at day 0 (P > 0.1) but pregnant sows had a greater backfat depth at weaning (16.5 ± 0.3 and 14.9 ± 0.6 mm, P < 0.04). Backfat loss during lactation was positively associated with WOI (P < 0.01) and negatively associated with pregnancy rate (P < 0.04). Plasma leptin concentrations were higher (P < 0.001) in FAT sows than in MEDIUM or THIN sows on both days but there was no relationship between plasma leptin concentrations and reproductive performances after weaning. It is concluded that plasma leptin is associated with backfat depth and that loss of backfat depth during lactation is associated with reproductive performance. However, there is no direct association between plasma leptin and reproductive performance.
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