Animal Production Science Animal Production Science  Society
Food, fibre and pharmaceuticals from animals

Just Accepted

This article has been peer reviewed and accepted for publication. It is in production and has not been edited, so may differ from the final published form.

Off to the right start – how pregnancy and early life can determine future animal health and production

Kathryn Gatford , Claire Roberts , Karen Kind , Phil Hynd


Animal producers are well aware that a low birth weight animal is more likely to die in the first few days of life, and if it survives is likely to perform poorly. We are now coming to appreciate that early life events can permanently change an animal’s developmental trajectory, also often referred to as developmental programming. This is an area of current interest in biomedicine, where the concept is known as the “developmental origins of health and disease” (DOHaD). Current gaps in understanding include many of the underlying mechanisms, and whether and how we might intervene and restore the potential for healthy and productive development. This review introduces the biomedical perspective of developmental programming, reviews some of the evidence for long-term effects of early life exposures on welfare and productivity in animal production, with a focus on prenatal growth and maternal stress in pig production, and discusses options for intervening to improve long-term outcomes.

AN17014  Accepted 23 August 2017

© CSIRO 2017