Lactational performance of first-parity transgenic gilts expressing bovine α-lactalbumin in their milk

M. S. Noble, S. Rodriguez-Zas, J. B. Cook, G. T. Bleck, W. L. Hurley, M. B. Wheeler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The goal of this study was to determine whether the presence of the bovine α-lactalbumin transgene in first-lactation gilts enhances lactational performance and litter growth. Transgenic and sibling nontransgenic gilts were bred to nontransgenic boars. Litters were standardized to 10 piglets within 24 h of farrowing. Milk production was measured by the weigh-suckle-weigh method on d 3, 6, 9, and 12 of lactation. Bovine α-lactalbumin was present in the colostrum and milk of transgenic gilts throughout lactation. The expression of the transgene was associated with alterations in composition of mammary secretions, especially in early lactation. Lactose concentrations were greater (P < 0.05) in mammary secretions of transgenic gilts during the first 12 h postpartum compared with controls. In contrast, total solids concentration in mammary secretions from transgenic gilts were lower (P < 0.05) relative to controls during the first 6 h postpartum. Transgenic gilts produced more milk than controls on d 3, 6, and 9 of lactation (P < 0.01). By d 12, differences in milk production between transgenic and control sows were no longer different. Lactose intake by transgenic-reared litters was greater than lactose intake by control-reared litters on d 6 of lactation (P < 0.05). Total solids intake was significantly greater (P < 0.05) by transgenic-reared litters on d 3 and 6 compared to control-reared litters. The day x genotype interaction on litter weight gain after birth was highly significant (P = 0.011), with transgenic-reared litters gaining weight at a greater rate than control-reared piglets. Expression of the transgene was associated with increased milk production in lactating gilts and increased growth of transgenic-reared piglets. Increased lactose synthesis in response to the presence of the transgene may result in increased milk production in early lactation, leading to increased milk component intake by transgenic litters, and ultimately to increased growth of litters reared by first-parity transgenic gilts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1090-1096
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of animal science
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2002


  • α-Lactalbumin
  • Litter Performance
  • Milk Composition
  • Milk Production
  • Transgenic Animals

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology


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