The production of colostrum and milk by the sow are primary limiting factors affecting survival, growth and development of the piglets. The proteins of colostrum and milk provide not only a supply of amino acids to the neonate but also a wide range of bioactive factors. Proteins in sow mammary secretions include those associated with the milk fat membranes, caseins, mammary-derived whey proteins, immunoglobulins, hormones and growth factors, enzymes, and a wide range of other proteins. Concentrations of most milk-specific proteins typically are lower in colostrum than in milk, while concentrations of immunoglobulins and other bioactive proteins often are enriched in colostrum compared with mature milk. Dietary protein is utilized for milk protein production with approximately 50% efficiency. During both the colostrum period and at peak lactation as much as 700–800 g of protein is secreted daily by today’s highly prolific sows. Estimates of daily milk protein secretion during lactation suggest that sows are not able to consume sufficient dietary protein and energy to account for output of solids in milk and therefore must mobilize body protein and body fat to support their milk production. Milk protein content typically is not affected by dietary treatment, indicating that the sow mobilizes her body reserves to maintain milk production and milk protein production. These observations are of particular interest for today’s highly prolific sows, which may require more dietary protein than previous genotypes.
Part of the book: Milk Proteins