Journal of Dairy Research

Research Article

Effects of increased milking frequency for the first 21 days post partum on selected measures of mammary gland health, milk yield and milk composition

Shannon L Shieldsa1, Pedram Rezamanda1 c1, Dallace L Seviera1, Keun S Seoa1, William Pricea1 and Mark A McGuirea1

a1 Department of Animal & Veterinary Science, University of Idaho, Moscow ID 83844 USA

a2 College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, University of Idaho, Moscow ID 83844 USA

Abstract

Somatic cell count (SCC) is a widely used marker of udder health and a predictor of inflammation caused by an immune response. The objective of this study was to determine whether selected measures of mammary gland health as well as milk fatty acid profile were altered by an increase in milking frequency using a unilateral frequent milking (UFM) model. Holstein cows at parturition were assigned to UFM, in which the left udder half of each cow was milked four-times daily (4X) and the right udder half was milked twice daily (2X) for the first 21 days in milk (DIM). Milk yields from each udder half were measured from 1–21 DIM and samples were collected on days 3, 7, 10, 14 and 21 for determination of SCC and milk composition. Flow cytometric analysis with bovine monoclonal antibodies was used to identify milk immune cell populations and milk fatty acid (FA) composition was determined using gas chromatography. Gene expression analysis was used to determine whether there was an alteration in mRNA expression of genes involved in milk fat production including lipoprotein lipase (LPL) and FA-binding protein 3 (FABP3) with ribosomal protein S9 (RPS9) as a house-keeping gene. No difference was detected for milk SCC or cell populations between the udder halves milked 4X as compared with the udder halves milked 2X. In addition, no difference was detected for any FA in milk from the udder half milked 4X as compared with the udder half milked 2X. Overall, using a UFM model, increased milking frequency for the first 21 DIM did not affect selected measures of mammary gland health or milk FA, but was associated with greater milk yield, milk fat percent and yield, and milk protein and lactose yields.

(Received November 25 2010)

(Accepted April 28 2011)

(Online publication July 21 2011)

Correspondence:

c1 For correspondence; e-mail: rezamand@uidaho.edu