February 15, 2021

A dynamic mammary gland model describing colostrum immunoglobulin transfer and milk production in lactating sows

Interpretive Summary: A dynamic mammary gland model describing colostrum immunoglobulin transfer and milk production in lactating sows

By Anne Zinn

While the physiology of the sow mammary gland is qualitatively well described and understood, the quantitative effect of various biological mechanisms contributing to the synthesis of colostrum and milk is limited and complicated to obtain. A study recently published in the Journal of Animal Science examined ways to integrate physiological and empirical knowledge of the production of colostrum and milk in a dynamic model of a single sow mammary gland to understand and quantify parameters controlling mammary gland output. The objective was to simulate the transfer of immunoglobulins and the production of milk in the sow mammary gland based on the model framework developed for lactating cattle by Neal and Thornley (1983).

The model described is the first to simulate the production of colostrum and milk in sows using physiological aspects to describe the balance between the capacity of the sow and the demand by the piglets. The results of the simulations suggest that the piglet demand for milk represents the majority of the variation in milk output from individual glands. In addition, results demonstrated that the approach of representing colostrum as the combined output of immunoglobulins and milk illustrates the gradual transition between colostrum to milk synthesis, but more knowledge is required to consider the nursing behavior of piglets during this period.

The model used in the present study allows a simple approach to investigate and potentially product mammary output based on relatively simple and measurable parameters. This model may swerve as a framework to allow further investigation into the impact of nutrient supply, uptake, and metabolism on milk synthesis.

The full paper can be found on the Journal of Animal Science website.