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Journal of Animal Science Abstract - Lactation and Mammary Gland Biology

In vivo measures of mammary development in gestating gilts1


This article in JAS

  1. Vol. 95 No. 12, p. 5358-5364
    Received: May 29, 2017
    Accepted: Sept 26, 2017
    Published: November 9, 2017

    2 Corresponding author(s):

  1. C. Farmer 2a,
  2. É. Fortina and
  3. S. Méthota
  1. a Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Sherbrooke R & D Centre, 2000 College St., Sherbrooke, Québec J1M 0C8, Canada


Potential links between measures of udder morphology obtained in live pregnant gilts and mammary gland development and composition measured in mammary tissue collected at slaughter were studied. Thirty-three gilts were used. In vivo measures of gland morphology using a tape or ultrasound imaging (parenchymal area measured by ultrasound [AREA]) were obtained on d 108 ± 1 of gestation. Gilts were then slaughtered on d 110 ± 1 of gestation to collect mammary glands for dissection and compositional analyses. The various tape measures were the distance between each teat on one side of the udder (DIST-TEAT), the distance between each teat pair (DIST-PAIR), the length of the udder (sum of all DIST-TEAT), the distance between the base of the teat and the ventral midline section of the udder (MID), and the distance between the base of the teat and the exterior junction of the udder with the abdomen (EXT). The variables MID, DIST-TEAT, DIST-PAIR, and length had very poor correlations with parenchymal weight, extraparenchymal weight, or any of the measured compositional variables. On the other hand, both AREA and EXT were correlated (P < 0.01) with the weight of parenchymal tissue, total parenchymal protein, total DNA, and total RNA. The ultrasound measure AREA and the tape measure EXT were also correlated with each other (P < 0.05). These measures could, therefore, be helpful to estimate mammary development in studies where animals cannot be slaughtered. The tape measure EXT seemed to better reflect the volume of the gland than MID, and it provided as reliable an estimate of parenchymal weight as the measure of parenchymal area using ultrasound while being much easier and cheaper to obtain.

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