Pig Development

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Sow and piglet.

Pig (Sus scrofa) developmental model is studied extensively due to the commercial applications of pigs for meat production and for health issues such as obesity, cardiovascular disease, and organ transplantation (xenotransplantation).

Historically, there is an excellent description of the pig reproductive estrous cycle and the cyclic changes that occur within the ovary.[1]

Pig Links: Introduction | Estrous Cycle | Pig Embryo Development Plates (1897) | Estrous and Implantation (1921) | Limb Arteries (1922) | Category:Pig

Some Recent Findings

Historic drawing of early limb vasculature.
  • A gene expression atlas of the domestic pig[2] "As an important livestock animal with a physiology that is more similar than mouse to man, we provide a major new resource for understanding gene expression with respect to the known physiology of mammalian tissues and cells. The data and analyses are available on the websites http://biogps.org and http://www.macrophages.com/pig-atlas."
  • How pig sperm prepares to fertilize[3]"We propose that this capacitation driven membrane docking and stability thereof is a preparative step prior to the multipoint membrane fusions characteristic for the acrosome reaction induced by sperm-zona binding."
  • Axial differentiation and early gastrulation stages of the pig embryo[4] "Differentiation of the principal body axes in the early vertebrate embryo is based on a specific blueprint of gene expression and a series of transient axial structures such as Hensen's node and the notochord of the late gastrulation phase. ... Intriguingly, the round shape and gradual posterior displacement of the APD in the pig appear to be species-specific (differing from all other mammals studied in detail to date) but correlate with ensuing specific primitive streak and extraembryonic mesoderm development. APD and, hence, the earliest axial structure presently known in the mammalian embryo may thus be functionally involved in shaping extraembryonic membranes and, possibly, the specific adult body form."
More recent papers
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This table shows an automated computer PubMed search using the listed sub-heading term.
  • Therefore the list of references do not reflect any editorial selection of material based on content or relevance.
  • References appear in this list based upon the date of the actual page viewing.

References listed on the rest of the content page and the associated discussion page (listed under the publication year sub-headings) do include some editorial selection based upon both relevance and availability.

Links: References | Discussion Page | Pubmed Most Recent

Search term: Pig Embryology

Jolanta Kiewisz, Kamil Krawczynski, Pawel Lisowski, Agnieszka Blitek, Lech Zwierzchowski, Adam J Ziecik, Monika M Kaczmarek Global gene expression profiling of porcine endometria on Days 12 and 16 of the estrous cycle and pregnancy. Theriogenology: 2014; PMID:25123632 Kimberly L Cooper, Karen E Sears, Aysu Uygur, Jennifer Maier, Karl-Stephan Baczkowski, Margaret Brosnahan, Doug Antczak, Julian A Skidmore, Clifford J Tabin Patterning and post-patterning modes of evolutionary digit loss in mammals. Nature: 2014, 511(7507);41-5 PMID:24990742 Orsolya Kántor, Alexandra Varga, Tamás Kovács-Öller, Anna Enzsöly, Lajos Balogh, Gábor Baksa, Zsuzsanna Szepessy, Caroline Fonta, Anna Wang Roe, Roland Nitschke, Agoston Szél, László Négyessy, Béla Völgyi, Akos Lukáts TNAP activity is localized at critical sites of retinal neurotransmission across various vertebrate species. Cell Tissue Res.: 2014; PMID:24988913 Benjamin S Arbuckle, Sarah Whitcher Kansa, Eric Kansa, David Orton, Canan Cakırlar, Lionel Gourichon, Levent Atici, Alfred Galik, Arkadiusz Marciniak, Jacqui Mulville, Hijlke Buitenhuis, Denise Carruthers, Bea De Cupere, Arzu Demirergi, Sheelagh Frame, Daniel Helmer, Louise Martin, Joris Peters, Nadja Pöllath, Kamilla Pawłowska, Nerissa Russell, Katheryn Twiss, Doris Würtenberger Data Sharing Reveals Complexity in the Westward Spread of Domestic Animals across Neolithic Turkey. PLoS ONE: 2014, 9(6);e99845 PMID:24927173 Ewelina Prozorowska, Hanna Jackowiak Angioarchitecture of gallbladder in pig: LM and SEM study on vascular microcorrosion casts. Microsc. Res. Tech.: 2014; PMID:24916120


Taxonomy ID: 9823

Genbank common name: pig

Inherited blast name: even-toed ungulates

Rank: species

Genetic code: Translation table 1 (Standard)

Mitochondrial genetic code: Translation table 2 (Vertebrate Mitochondrial)

Other names: wild boar, swine, pigs

Lineage (full): cellular organisms; Eukaryota; Fungi/Metazoa group; Metazoa; Eumetazoa; Bilateria; Coelomata; Deuterostomia; Chordata; Craniata; Vertebrata; Gnathostomata; Teleostomi; Euteleostomi; Sarcopterygii; Tetrapoda; Amniota; Mammalia; Theria; Eutheria; Laurasiatheria; Cetartiodactyla; Suina; Suidae; Sus

Animal Models

Postnatal Animal Models[5] Mouse Rat Pig
Pregnancy period (days) 18 – 21 21 – 23 110 – 118
Placenta type Discoidal, decidual
hemoendothelial choroidea
Discoidal, decidual
hemoendothelial choroidea
Litter size 6 – 12 6 – 15 11 – 16
Birth weight (g) 0.5 – 1.5 3 – 5 900 – 1600
Weaning weight male/female (g) 18 – 25/16 – 25 55 – 90/45 – 80 6000 – 8000
Suckling period (days) 21–28 21 28–49
Solid diet beginning (days) 10 12 12 – 15
Puberty male/female (week) 4 – 6/5 6/6 – 8 20 – 28
Life expectancy (years) 1 - 2 2 - 3 14 – 18

Normal Stages

The images below are from the 1897 Normentafeln zur Entwicklungsgeschichte der Wirbeltiere - Sus scrofa domesticus (Normal Plates of the Development of the Pig Embryo) by Franz Keibel

Normal Plates Series: 1 Pig (1897) | 2 Chicken (1900) | 3 Lungfish (1901) | 4 Sand Lizard (1904) | 5 Rabbit (1905) | 6 Deer (1906) | 7 Tarsiers (1907) | 8 Human (1908) | 9 Northern Lapwing (1909) | 10 South American and African Lungfish (1909) | 11 Salamander (1910) | Franz Keibel | Embryology History

Uterus and Ovary


Diagram showing form and dimensions of the uterus and Fallopian tubes of the sow.[6] Drawn from an average specimen taken from a young mature animal.

Estrous Cycle

Female pig is called a sow.



Events of the average cycle of 21 days in the non-pregnant sow.[6]

Diagram showing relationship between oestrua, ovulation, corpus luteum development, and the progress of the ova in the sow.



Events of the first weeks of pregnancy.[6]

Diagram showing relationship between oestrua, ovulation, corpus luteum development, and the progress of the ova in the sow.

Pig - uterine epithelium SEM.jpg

Scanning electron microscope images of the endometrial surface of a Day 13 pregnant sow.[7]

Male Pig

Male pig is called a boar.

Pig sperm capacitation 02.jpg

Capacitation alters the ultrastructure of the apical head and the acrosome of boar sperm.[8]

Model capacitation-induced acrosome docking to sperm membrane.jpg

Model for capacitation-induced stable docking of the acrosome to the sperm plasma membrane.[3]

Pig Development

[[File:Keibel1897_plate01.jpg|thumb|400px|Images of pig development from 1897 book plate.

  • The gestation period of a pig is 112 to 114 days.
  • Female pigs can become pregnant at around 8 to 18 months of age.
  • The pig has an estrus cycle occurring every 21 days if not bred.
  • Male pigs become sexually active at 8 to 10 months of age.
  • Embryos begin to attach to the uterus on days 13–14 of pregnancy.
  • Day 15-20 implanted and expansion of allantois.
  • A litter of piglets is between 6 and 12 piglets.

Data For Carnegie Stages Comparison Graph (Species/Days)

Species Stage
Human Days 20 22 24 28 30 33 36 40 42 44 48 52 54 55 58
Pig Days 14 15 16 17 18 19 20.5 21.5 23 24 25.5 27.5 29 30.5 32.5

Links: Carnegie Stage Comparison

Neural Development

The data below is summarised from an excellent study of early neural development in the pig.[9] The same authors have studied neural development in the rabbit.

  • 7 somite embryo - first apposition of the neural folds occurs at somite levels 5-7. (corresponds to closure site I in mouse).
  • next stage - rostral and caudal parts of the rhombencephalic folds appose, leaving an opening in between.
    • at this stage four neuropores can be distinguished, of which the anterior and posterior ones will remain open longest. (two rhombencephalic closure sites have no counterpart in the mouse, but do have some resemblance to those of the rabbit)

anterior neuropore

  • closes in three phases
  1. dorsal folds slowly align and then close instantaneously, the slow progression being likely due to a counteracting effect of the mesencephalic flexure
  2. dorso-lateral folds close in a zipper-like fashion in caudo-rostral direction
  3. final round aperture is likely to close by circumferential growth.

22 somite embryo - anterior neuropore is completely closed. (closure sites for the anterior neuropore in mouse embryo, none of these were detected in the pig embryo)

posterior neuropore

  • closes initially very fast in the somitic region, but this process almost stops thereafter.
  • stage 20-22 somites the posterior neuropore suddenly reduces in size but thereafter a small neuropore remains for 5 somite stages.
  • closure of the posterior neuropore is completed at the stage of 28 somites.

8-20 somite embryos - the width of the posterior neuropore does not change, while the rate of closure gradually increases.

Additional Images


  1. Corner, G.W., Cyclic changes in the ovaries and uterus of swine, and their relations to the mechanism of implantation. Contributions to Embryology Carnegie Institution, 1922, No.64 117-146.
  2. Tom C Freeman, Alasdair Ivens, J Kenneth Baillie, Dario Beraldi, Mark W Barnett, David Dorward, Alison Downing, Lynsey Fairbairn, Ronan Kapetanovic, Sobia Raza, Andru Tomoiu, Ramiro Alberio, Chunlei Wu, Andrew I Su, Kim M Summers, Christopher K Tuggle, Alan L Archibald, David A Hume A gene expression atlas of the domestic pig. BMC Biol.: 2012, 10;90 PMID:23153189
  3. 3.0 3.1 Pei-Shiue Tsai, Núria Garcia-Gil, Theo van Haeften, Bart M Gadella How pig sperm prepares to fertilize: stable acrosome docking to the plasma membrane. PLoS ONE: 2010, 5(6);e11204 PMID:20585455
  4. Romia Hassoun, Peter Schwartz, Kerstin Feistel, Martin Blum, Christoph Viebahn Axial differentiation and early gastrulation stages of the pig embryo. Differentiation: 2009, 78(5);301-11 PMID:19683851
  5. Francisco J Pérez-Cano, Àngels Franch, Cristina Castellote, Margarida Castell The suckling rat as a model for immunonutrition studies in early life. Clin. Dev. Immunol.: 2012, 2012;537310 PMID:22899949 | PMC3415261 | Clin Dev Immunol.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Corner, G.W., Cyclic changes in the ovaries and uterus of swine, and their relations to the mechanism of implantation. Carnegie Institution - Contributions to Embryology No.64 (1922) 117-146.
  7. Qian Ren, Shu Guan, Jinluan Fu, Aiguo Wang Temporal and spatial expression of muc1 during implantation in sows. Int J Mol Sci: 2010, 11(6);2322-35 PMID:20640155 | PMC2904919
  8. Pei-Shiue Tsai, Núria Garcia-Gil, Theo van Haeften, Bart M Gadella How pig sperm prepares to fertilize: stable acrosome docking to the plasma membrane. PLoS ONE: 2010, 5(6);e11204 PMID:20585455 | PLoS One.
  9. H W van Straaten, M C Peeters, J W Hekking, T van der Lende Neurulation in the pig embryo. Anat. Embryol.: 2000, 202(2);75-84 PMID:10985427

Recent References


Tamás Somfai, Kazuhiro Kikuchi, Takashi Nagai Factors affecting cryopreservation of porcine oocytes. J. Reprod. Dev.: 2012, 58(1);17-24 PMID:22450280

Esben Ostrup, Poul Hyttel, Olga Ostrup Embryo-maternal communication: signalling before and during placentation in cattle and pig. Reprod. Fertil. Dev.: 2011, 23(8);964-75 PMID:22127002

Agnieszka Waclawik Novel insights into the mechanisms of pregnancy establishment: regulation of prostaglandin synthesis and signaling in the pig. Reproduction: 2011, 142(3);389-99 PMID:21677026

O W Robison Growth patterns in swine. J. Anim. Sci.: 1976, 42(4);1024-35 PMID:770410

S A Book, L K Bustad The fetal and neonatal pig in biomedical research. J. Anim. Sci.: 1974, 38(5);997-1002 PMID:4596894

R M Moor Foetal homeostasis: conceptus-ovary endocrine balance. Proc. R. Soc. Med.: 1968, 61(11 Pt 2);1217-26 PMID:4973146

R M Moor Effect of embryo on corpus luteum function. J. Anim. Sci.: 1968, 27 Suppl 1;97-118 PMID:4951167


Romia Hassoun, Peter Schwartz, Detlef Rath, Christoph Viebahn, Jörg Männer Germ layer differentiation during early hindgut and cloaca formation in rabbit and pig embryos. J. Anat.: 2010, 217(6);665-78 PMID:20874819

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  • pig development - All (22158) Review (1443) Free Full Text (6175)
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Search Pubmed: pig development | pig embryo | Sus scrofa development

External Links

External Links Notice - The dynamic nature of the internet may mean that some of these listed links may no longer function. If the link no longer works search the web with the link text or name.

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Historic Embryology
1897 Pig | 1900 Chicken | 1901 Lungfish | 1904 Sand Lizard | 1905 Rabbit | 19066 Deer | 1907 Tarsiers | 1908 Human | 1909 Northern Lapwing | 1909 South American and African Lungfish | 1910 Salamander | Embryology History | Historic Disclaimer

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Cite this page: Hill, M.A. (2014) Embryology Pig Development. Retrieved August 22, 2014, from https://php.med.unsw.edu.au/embryology/index.php?title=Pig_Development

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© Dr Mark Hill 2014, UNSW Embryology ISBN: 978 0 7334 2609 4 - UNSW CRICOS Provider Code No. 00098G