Implications of placentation type on species-specific colostrum properties in mammals.

Bigler, Naomi A; Bruckmaier, Rupert M; Gross, Josef J (2022). Implications of placentation type on species-specific colostrum properties in mammals. Journal of animal science, 100(12) Oxford University Press 10.1093/jas/skac287

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Maternal care is essential to optimally support survival of the offspring. During evolution of mammalian species, different phenotypes have evolved in relation to gestation length, number, size, and maturation stage of the offspring at parturition, as well as colostrum and milk composition. The aim of the present review is to describe relationships between placental function and colostrum and milk composition in different mammalian species. Species covered in this article include humans, rabbits, rodents (rat, mouse), carnivores (cats, dogs), and a variety of ungulate species (cattle, sheep, goats, pigs, horses). Species-specific aspects are elucidated with special focus on the transfer of passive immunity. In this regard, the structure and thus the capability of the placenta to transport immunoglobulins from maternal to fetal circulation in utero dictates the necessity of the passive transfer of immunity via colostrum. Consequently, species with exclusive postpartal transfer of immunity such as in all ungulate species have greater immunoglobulin G concentrations in colostrum than species with a prepartal transfer in utero, where especially immunoglobulin A with its local immune function in the gastro-intestinal tract is present in colostrum (e.g., rabbit, human). In terms of the nutritional purpose, suckling frequency is an important factor determining the gross composition of colostrum as well as in the mature milk of these species. Milk of nidicolous animals with long intervals in-between suckling events contains more fat than milk of nidifugous animals with constant access to their mother. However, the importance of colostrum and milk consumption for newborn animals and human babies goes beyond nutrition and transfer of immunity. Numerous bioactive components such as growth factors, hormones, and oligosaccharides are enriched in colostrum and transition milk, which support the development of the intestinal tract and local immune system.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


05 Veterinary Medicine > Department of Clinical Research and Veterinary Public Health (DCR-VPH) > Veterinary Physiology

UniBE Contributor:

Bigler, Naomi Ana, Bruckmaier, Rupert, Gross, Josef Johann


600 Technology > 630 Agriculture




Oxford University Press




Pubmed Import

Date Deposited:

02 Sep 2022 15:32

Last Modified:

05 Dec 2022 16:23

Publisher DOI:


PubMed ID:


Uncontrolled Keywords:

colostrum mammals mammary gland placenta transfer of passive immunity




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