The mammary gland progresses from the accumulation of a few cells in the embryonic ectoderm to a highly arborescent tubulo-alveolar gland capable of secreting a highly nutritious product for consumption. Throughout this progression, various changes occur during each developmental stage: prenatal, prepubertal, pubertal, gestational, lactational, and mammary involution. Other articles in this encyclopedia describe hormones that regulate mammary development and lactation. However, understanding the general anatomy of the mammary gland and developmental changes that occur during the reproductive life of an animal is critical to appreciating the hormonal regulation and full productive potential of the mammary gland.

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