Effects of suckling intensity on milk yield and piglet growth from lactation-enhanced gilts

K. M. Marshall, W. L. Hurley, R. D. Shanks, M. B. Wheeler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The effects of suckling intensity on milk yield and piglet growth were determined when lactation capacity of the sow was enhanced through overexpression of a mammary-specific transgene, bovine α-lactalbumin. Lactational response to increased suckling stimulation was determined by fostering litters of the same age (d 1) or 7 d older (d 7) than the day of lactation to sows nontransgenic (control) or transgenic (TG) for bovine α-lactalbumin. Twenty first-parity gilts were allocated to 4 treatments dependent on gilt genotype and age of litter fostered (control d 1, control d 7, TG d 1, and TG d 7). Litters were standardized to 10 piglets within 24 h postpartum, and nonbirth piglets were fostered to gilts with an equal litter BW within age groups at 36 h postpartum. Milk yield was determined by the weigh-suckle-weigh method on d 6, 9, 12, 15, and 18 of lactation. Mean daily milk yield was greater (P = 0.031) for TG gilts compared with control gilts and tended to be greater (P = 0.056) for all gilts with d-7 piglets compared with those with d-1 piglets. Daily milk yield of TG d 7 gilts increased rapidly to peak at d 9 and was greater than milk yield of all control gilts at d 9 (P < 0.01), 12 (P < 0.02), and 15 (P < 0.02). Mean daily milk yield of TG d 7 gilts was 2.1 kg greater (P = 0.002) than for control d 7 gilts and 2.0 kg greater (P = 0.004) than for TG d 1 gilts. Daily milk yield of control d 1 gilts was not different from that of TG d 1 gilts (P = 0.49) or control d 7 gilts (P = 0.63). Piglet BW gain between d 3 and 6 was greater (P < 0.01) in the TG d 7 group than for all other groups and was greater (P < 0.05) than the control groups between d 6 and 9. No difference was found when comparing accumulated BW gain of the piglets between the day of age at foster (d 1 vs. 7; P = 0.606) or between the control d 1 and control d 7 groups (P = 0.759). Accumulated BW gain of piglets suckling TG d 7 gilts from d 3 through 9 was greater (P < 0.02) than that of the other groups and continued to be greater (P < 0.05) than that of either of the control groups through d 15. However, by d 15, accumulated BW gain of piglets suckling TG d 1 gilts was no longer different (P = 0.40) from that of the TG d 7 group and was greater (P < 0.05) than that of the control d 1 group. The enhanced lactation potential of these TG gilts synergized with suckling intensity to stimulate increased milk production during early lactation, resulting in increased piglet growth.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2346-2351
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of animal science
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2006


  • α-lactalbumin
  • Milk yield
  • Piglet growth
  • Suckling intensity
  • Swine
  • Transgenic animal

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology


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