Three experiments, using a total of 132 pre-pubertal gilts, were carried out to investigate the influence of contact with oestrous female pigs on the attainment of puberty by gilts. Experiment 1 compared the effect of removing the gilts from their groups as they reached puberty in response to exposure to a boar, with leaving the gilts in their groups for five to 15 days after puberty or five to 15 days after second oestrus. All the groups exposed to boars reached puberty significantly earlier than controls (P less than 0.05) but there was no difference between these groups in their mean age at puberty. However, the synchrony of puberty was significantly greater among the gilts which remained in their groups after puberty (P less than 0.01) or second oestrus (P less than 0.001) than among the gilts which were removed at puberty. Experiment 2 investigated the influence of housing pre-pubertal gilts with penmates induced into puberty with injections of oestradiol benzoate. Puberty was significantly advanced by the presence of penmates regularly exhibiting oestrous periods. Experiment 3 compared the effect of daily exposure to an anoestrous ovariectomised sow, an oestrous ovariectomised sow or a boar, on the attainment of puberty by gilts. Gilts exposed to either an oestrous sow or a boar were significantly younger at puberty than isolated control animals (P less than 0.05) whereas the mean age at puberty of gilts exposed to an anoestrous sow was not significantly different from that of controls.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)
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