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Effect of milking frequency on lactation persistency and mammary gland remodeling in mid-lactation cows<sup>1</sup>

Bernier-Dodier, P., Delbecchi, L., Wagner, G.F., Talbot, B.G., Lacasse, P. (2010). Effect of milking frequency on lactation persistency and mammary gland remodeling in mid-lactation cows<sup>1</sup>, 93(2), 555-564.


The objective of this study was to evaluate the effect of milking frequency on milk production and composition, mammary cell proliferation, apoptosis, and gene expression. For this investigation, 10 Holstein cows that were being milked twice a day in mid lactation were selected. To study the effect of differential milking, 2 quarters were milked once daily and the other 2 were milked thrice daily for 8. wk. After that period, twice-daily milking was resumed for all quarters, and data were collected for an additional 6. wk. Mammary gland biopsies were taken 1. wk before differential milking (wk -1) and after 4 and 8. wk of differential milking. Milk samples were collected weekly throughout the experiment. Once-daily milking resulted in an immediate reduction in milk yield, whereas thrice-daily milking resulted in an increase in milk yield. During differential milking, the daily milk yield of the quarters milked once daily declined by 0.54. kg/wk, on average, but remained constant in the quarters milked thrice daily. Part of the difference in milk yield between the glands pairs persisted after twice-daily milking was reinitiated. In the quarters milked once daily, milk BSA concentration increased, indicating an increase in tight junction leakiness, and zymographic analysis of milk enzymes showed increased activity of several proteases. Reducing the milking frequency also increased mammary cell apoptosis and, surprisingly, mammary cell proliferation. Interestingly, milk concentrations of stanniocalcin-1 and insulin-like growth factor-I and mammary gland expression of several genes were also modulated by milking frequency. For example, expression of insulin-like growth factor I receptor was downregulated during once-daily milking. Last, expression of the short and long isoforms of the prolactin receptor and of CSN2 (β-casein) were upregulated during thrice-daily milking. Taken together, these data suggest that milking frequency not only affects mammary gland remodeling and the expression of paracrine factors but also modulates hormone sensitivity. © 2010 American Dairy Science Association.

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