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Interpretive Summary: In utero hyperthermia in late gestation derails dairy calf early-life mammary development

By: Bethany M Dado-Senn, Sena L Field, Brittney D Davidson, Geoffrey E Dahl, Jimena Laporta

Late-gestation in utero heat stress in dairy cattle negatively affects the mammary microstructure and milk yield at maturity, but investigation into early-life windows of mammary development is needed to fully characterize the lifelong consequences of intrauterine heat stress on the mammary gland (MG). The present study quantified mammary gross morphology and mammary fat pad and parenchyma composition, tissue microstructure, and cellular proliferation at birth and after weaning from heifers exposed to late-gestation prenatal hyperthermia. The whole MGs and fat pads of in utero heat-stressed heifers are lighter across early life relative to in utero cooled heifers. The mammary parenchyma is smaller at birth with stunted ductal development and cellular proliferation at birth and after weaning. These impairments may limit later mammary epithelial development and impact long-term productivity.

Read the full article in the Journal of Animal Science.