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Review: Mammary development in swine: Effects of hormonal status, nutrition and management

Farmer, C. (2013). Review: Mammary development in swine: Effects of hormonal status, nutrition and management, 93(1), 1-7.


There are three phases of rapid mammary accretion in swine, namely, from 90 d of age until puberty, during the last third of gestation and throughout lactation. Nutrition, endocrine status and management of gilts or sows during those periods can affect mammary development. More specifically, in growing gilts, feed restriction as of 90 d of age hinders mammary development and either supplying the phytoestrogen genistein or increasing circulating concentrations of prolactin stimulates mammogenesis. In late gestation, inhibition of relaxin or prolactin drastically diminishes mammary development and overly increasing dietary energy has a detrimental effect on mammogenesis. It also appears that feeding of the gestating sow can affect the mammary development of her offspring once it reaches puberty. Various management factors such as litter size, nursing intensity and use or non-use of a teat in the previous lactation will affect the amount of mammary tissue present at the end of lactation. Mammary development is followed by the essential process of involution whereby a rapid and drastic regression in parenchymal tissue takes place. It can occur either after weaning or in early lactation when teats are not being regularly suckled. Despite our current knowledge, much remains to be learned in order to develop the best management strategies for replacement gilts, and gestating and lactating sows that will maximize their milk production.

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