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Increasing Milking Frequency and Implications on Mammary Cell Dynamics

Jackson Wright, Dairy
Northwest New York Dairy, Livestock & Field Crops

June 1, 2012
Increasing Milking Frequency and Implications on Mammary Cell Dynamics

To overcome these setbacks, it's important to consider the underlying biology of the mammary gland. Ultimately, milk production is a function of mammary epithelial cell number and activity. In other words, to produce large quantities of milk requires a large amount of mammary epithelial cells and these cells need to be actively secreting milk. Applying this to the lactation curve, during early lactation mammary epithelial cell number is greatest. As milk production ramps up this large pool of cells become increasingly active leading up to peak milk production. Following peak milk yield, the mammary gland enters the declining phase of lactation where mammary epithelial cells slowly become quiescent (stop actively producing milk) and undergo apoptosis (programmed cell death), resulting in a gradual decrease in milk production.  

So why is this important? Anecdotally, I've heard many producers reference "For each pound more milk achieved in peak milk, total lactation yield increases 200 lbs," or a higher peak milk yield results in greater lactation persistency. Consider this: during milk letdown hormones such as oxytocin, prolactin, and IGF-1 are released into the blood stream. As we learn more about lactation physiology it is likely that these hormones target mammary epithelial cells and are important in signaling milk demands of the offspring. Therefore, increasing milking frequency during early lactation increases the frequency by which these hormones are released, signaling a higher demand for milk. Moreover, some authors have hypothesized that these hormones actually stimulate mammary epithelial cell activity preventing these cells from becoming quiescent and undergoing apoptosis, resulting in greater lactation persistency. Taking this a step further, because mammary epithelial cell number is greatest during early lactation, frequent milking during the first three weeks of lactation influences a greater number of target cells. Essentially, telling the dam there is high demand for milk and it is important to sustain this large pool of actively secreting mammary epithelial cells to meet future demand. As a result, increasing milking frequency through only day 21 of lactation can permanently increase the milk production capacity of the gland even after cows are returned to 2X milking (See Graph).

Maybe more importantly, increasing milking frequency during early lactation is simple to put into practice. Milking intervals do not need to be evenly spaced throughout the day; therefore fresh cows can be milked at the beginning and end of each milking (4X). This adds only a modest amount of time to each milking shift and does not require additional wash cycles, improving milk production per cow and parlor efficiency. Despite these exciting opportunities some early adopters of frequent milking during early lactation were discouraged by the results. This is likely because milk production drops as cow's transition from 4X milking to 2X milking. However, it's important to recognize that even though production drops following cessation of 4X milking, increasing milking frequency during early lactation permanently increases the milk production capacity of the udder into late lactation (See Graph). The immediate increase in milk production, minimal labor requirement, and increase in lactation persistency make increasing milking frequency during early lactation a profitable management strategy.



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calendar of events

Upcoming Events

Forage Congress

February 27, 2019
10:00 am - 3:30 pm
Mt. Morris, NY

  • Climate Smart Farming Decision Tools
  • Forage Quality to Reduce Purchase Concentrate Cost.  N Management, Guidelines for Grass, Low Lignin Alfalfa, Harvest Schedule
  • Fiber Digestibility & Corn Silage Hybrid Evaluation Using Fiber & Starch Yields
  • Silage Fermentation
  • Inventory & Shrink
  • Producer Panel

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MANURE APPLICATOR TRAINING - DEC Approved Training for CAFO Farms, register by 2/22/2019!

February 28, 2019
9 a.m. - 11 a.m. - Wyo Co Ag Bus Center, Warsaw and 1 p.m. - 3 p. m. Civil Def Bldg., Bath NY

This informational meeting is for all farm owners, family members, and employees who manage their farm's manure. All farms, regardless of size are encouraged to attend. This is a DEC approved Manure Applicator Training that is required for CAFO farms. A certificate will be provided to each farm that participates in the meeting. 
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Raising Healthy Livestock: The Basics of Feeding, Health, and Quality Care

March 2, 2019
10 am - 1 pm
Lockport, NY

Raising livestock can be a rewarding enterprise. There are many things to consider, including what to feed, how to keep them healthy and how to handle them. Cornell Cooperative Extension NWNY Dairy, Livestock & Field Crops Team is holding a workshop for livestock farmers to help address these topics. 
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Announcements

CDL Training Program For Agricultural Producers and their Employees ONLY

Cornell Cooperative Extension of Wyoming County, in collaboration with Genesee Valley BOCES, will be offering a CDL Training Program for both Class A and Class B licenses. This course is offered to Farm Owners, Operators, and their Employees ONLY.

Thursday, February 28, 2019, 7:00 PM - 9:00 PM (Informational Meeting)
Wednesday, March 6, 2019, 7:00 PM - 9:00 PM (Classroom)
Thursday, March 7, 2019, 7:00 PM - 9:00 PM (Classroom)
Cost:
Class A CDL=$ 750.00 (Enrolled in Ag Program)
Class A CDL =$ 800.00 (not enrolled in Ag Program).
Class B CDL=$ 600.00 (Enrolled in Ag Program)
Class B CDL =$ 650.00 (Not enrolled in Ag Program)
Checks payable to Cornell Cooperative Extension of Wyoming County
Held at CCE-Wyoming County., 36 Center Street, Warsaw, NY 14569

The informational meeting will be held the week before the CDL training session begins, to answer any questions you may have regarding this program and to pick up the required training materials and medical forms. To register, please contact Debra Welch at 585-786-2251 or email djw275@cornell.edu


Wyoming County Pride of Ag Dinner - N Java Fire hall, March 2nd

For more information about the event or to purchase tickets, please contact the Wyoming County Chamber of Commerce, 585.786.0307.

USDA to Host 2018 Farm Bill Implementation Listening Session

The listening session will be held Feb. 26, 2019 at 9:00 a.m. in the Jefferson Auditorium in the South Building located at 14th Street and Independence Ave. S.W. in Washington, D.C.

The listening session is open to the public. Participants must register at farmers.gov/farmbill by February 22, 2019, to attend the listening session and are encouraged to provide written comments prior to the listening session. For those orally presenting comments at the listening session, written comments are encouraged to be submitted to regulations.gov by February 22, 2019. Additional written comments will be accepted through March 1, 2019. Comments received will be publicly available on www.regulations.gov.


Three Free Digester Workshops offered through CCE St. Lawrence Co.

CCE of St. Lawrence County is offering three FREE workshops showcasing the research results from our feasibility study of anaerobic digester technology on small farms. The research was conducted by our partners at Clarkson University using the anaerobic digester at the Extension Learning Farm, which is fed both manure from a dairy operation and vegetable waste from our commercial kitchen. The digester heats a small green house that starts our seedling plants. We have a small scale vegetable-only digester as well. The research and program targets small dairies under 200 head, livestock producers, horticulture producers and anyone interested in alternative energy.

Program will be held on December 5, January 7, and March 6. A catered meal is provided at each program. Participants within the North Country Region will be given a $25 stipend to help cover travel costs, those from outside the region will be given $50. To receive the stipend, participants will need to complete a pre/post-test survey.

More information and registration information can be found here: http://stlawrence.cce.cornell.edu/events/2018/12/05/exploring-digester-technology


New Guidance for Mortality Disposal Issued

NYS Department of Ag and Markets has posted guidelines on disposal of livestock carcasses, in response to reports that some rendering companies have halted pickups from farms.

https://nwnyteam.cce.cornell.edu/submission.php?id=761&crumb=dairy|1

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