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Individual responses of dairy cows to a 24-hour milking interval
- Charton, C., Larroque, H., Robert-Granié, C., Pomiès, D., Leclerc, H., Friggens, N.C., Guinard-Flament, J.
- Journal of dairy science 2016 v.99 no.4 pp. 3103-3112
- Holstein, dairy cows, early lactation, farmers, lactose, milk, milk fat, milk yield, milking frequency, protein content, somatic cells, statistical analysis
- Some dairy farmers opt to omit one milking, either incidentally or weekly, without changing other milking times. This practice entails an extended milking interval of 24h (24h-MI), which is associated with a decrease in milk yield. This decrease varies among cows and could be partly due to factors such as stage of lactation and milk yield level. The aim of this study was to describe the average and individual responses in terms of loss and carryover effects of a 24h-MI on milk yield. The influence of factors such as parity, stage of lactation, and milk yield potential were investigated, together with response repeatability. Our trial used 292 Holstein-Friesian cows, and consisted of 3 successive periods: 1wk of twice-daily milking (TDM) as a control, one 24h-MI, and then 13d of TDM. The number of observations per cow ranged from 1 to 9, with no more than three 24h-MI per lactation. The 24h-MI reduced milk yield by 23% (7.8kg on average) and milk lactose content by 2.6g/kg on the 24h-MI day. Milk fat and protein content, and somatic cell score increased by 3.0g/kg, 0.5g/kg, and 0.4 units, respectively. No significant carryover effect was found of a 24h-MI on milk yield or milk composition 2wk after resumption of TDM. Milk yield loss and recovery varied widely (coefficient of variation 62%), and the relationship between milk loss and milk recovery showed substantial variation (residual standard deviation 2.1kg/d). Cows with a greater milk potential level lost more milk yield but recovered more milk, with no influence on recovery:loss ratio. Cows in early lactation recovered the lost milk yield faster. Repeatability of the responses to a 24h-MI was 44% for milk yield loss (kg/d), 57% for relative milk yield loss (%), 33% for milk yield recovery (kg/d), and 0% for milk recovery:loss ratio (%), suggesting a genetically determined ability to limit loss when one milking is omitted. To conclude, a 24h-MI caused higher milk yield losses than reported in previous studies. Stage of lactation, estimated potential milk yield level, and parity explained the cows’ response to the 24h-MI, but did not account for all the individual variability.