The goal of this project was to determine if standardized ileal digestible (SID) lysine provided at 40% above estimated requirements, with the concomitant increase in protein intake, from days 90 to 110 of gestation would stimulate mammary development in gilts. From day 90 of gestation, Yorkshire × Landrace gilts were fed 2.65 kg of either a conventional diet (CTL, control, n = 19) providing 18.6 g/d of SID Lys or a diet providing 26.0 g/d of SID Lys via additional soybean meal (HILYS, n = 19). Both diets were isoenergetic. Jugular blood samples obtained on days 90 and 110 of gestation were used to measure concentrations of insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1), metabolites, and amino acids (AA). Gilts were necropsied on day 110 ± 1 of gestation to obtain mammary glands for compositional analyses, immunohistochemistry, and analysis of mRNA abundance for AA transporters and markers of cell proliferation and differentiation. The HILYS gilts gained more body weight (P < 0.01) during the experimental period compared with CTL gilts, and had greater fetal weights (1.29 vs. 1.21 ± 0.03 kg, P < 0.05). There was no difference in circulating IGF-1, glucose, or albumin (P > 0.10) between HILYS and CTL gilts on day 110 of gestation, whereas concentrations of urea and free fatty acids were greater (P < 0.01), and those of Trp and Ala were lower (P < 0.05), in HILYS than CTL gilts. The provision of lysine at 40% above estimated requirements increased total mammary parenchymal mass by 44%, as well as total parenchymal fat, protein, DNA, and RNA (P < 0.01). The mRNA abundance of ACACA was greater (P < 0.05) in HILYS than CTL gilts, while only the AA transporter SLC6A14 tended (P < 0.10) to be greater.
Results demonstrate that providing dietary Lys above current National Research Council recommendations in late gestation increases mammary development in gilts. Results also indicate that Lys may have been limiting for protein retention. These data suggest that the use of a two-phase feeding strategy during gestation, whereby dietary Lys is increased from day 90, could benefit potential sow milk yield in the subsequent lactation.