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It has been reported that a diet supplemented with L-carnitine can improve sperm quality in some mammalian species. Against this background, the current study seeks to determine the effects of feeding L-carnitine (625 mg day(-1)) on boar semen characteristics (ejaculate volume, sperm concentration, sperm viability, acrosome and mitochondrial sheath integrity, sperm motility, sperm morphology, and osmotic resistance of spermatozoa) in three different porcine breeds (Sus domesticus) (Piétrain, Duroc, and Large White) exposed to natural environmental changes in temperature and photoperiod over a 20-wk period (February to July 2007). One hundred twenty boars (40 per breed) were randomly separated into two groups (60 boars each): the first (20 boars per breed) was fed a control diet and the second (also 20 males per breed) the same diet supplemented with L-carnitine (625 mg day(-1)). Whereas the L-carnitine supplement did not affect ejaculate volume, concentration, motility, viability, or the osmotic resistance of spermatozoa, it did improve sperm morphology in Piétrain boars by reducing the percentage of immature spermatozoa when the temperature and the photoperiod increased. Conversely, no effect on sperm morphology from supplementing feed with L-carnitine was observed in both Duroc and Large White breeds. We can therefore conclude that the addition of L-carnitine to the diet of males may maintain the level of normal sperm morphology in Piétrain boars when a drop in sperm quality occurs (due to increases in photoperiod and temperature), without affecting the other sperm quality parameters.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





577 - 586


Acrosome, Animal Feed, Animals, Carnitine, Cell Survival, Dietary Supplements, Hot Temperature, Male, Mitochondria, Osmotic Pressure, Photoperiod, Semen Analysis, Species Specificity, Spermatozoa, Sus scrofa, Time Factors