Impact of frequency of milking on milk yield and fertility of Holstein cows undergoing extended lactations due to failure to conceive
The objective of this observational study was to determine the effect of two (2x) compared to three (3x) times a day milking in Holstein cows undergoing lactations ≥600 d on milk production and reproductive performance. Two large adjacent commercial dairy herds with similar size, facilities, and management in a hot area of northern Mexico (25° N) were used. Cows in one herd (n= 214) were milked two times a day (2x), the other herd was milked three times a day (3x; n=245) and both groups were milked for at least 600 days. For cows in first lactation, total milk yield did not differ between 3x and 2x cows (19796 ± 3354 vs. 19269 ± 3652 kg; p > 0.10) in lactations with an average of 696 and 650 days in milk (DIM), respectively. Multiparous 3x cows produced more total milk days than 2x cows (20942 ± 3920 vs. 18910 ± 2632 kg; p < 0.01) with greater (p < 0.01) DIM for 3x (685 ± 117 days) than 2x (631 ± 88 days) cows. Lactation persistence was greater (p < 0.05) in 2x (62 ± 9%) than 3x (60 ± 10%) cows. Overall conception rate (CR) did not differ between 2x and 3x cows (53.3% vs. 49.8%) but 3x cows required one more service (p < 0.01) to get pregnant than 2x animals. Given that average milk yield throughout the complete lactation did not differ between 2x (29.8 ± 2.0 kg) and 3x (29.3 ± 2.9 kg) cows, it was concluded that two-times-a-day milking is equally effective as three-times-a-day milking to attain acceptable milk yield in lactations over 600 days. However, reproductive performance based on first-service CR and services per pregnancy was negatively affected by three-times-a-day milking.
Auldist, M. J., G. O’Brien, D. Cole, K. L. MacMillan and C. Grainger. 2007. Effects of varying lactation length on milk production capacity of cows in pasture-based dairying systems. J. Dairy Sci. 90: 3234–3241,
Berry, D., N. C. Friggens, M. Lucy and J. R. Roche. 2016. Milk Production and Fertility in Cattle. Ann. Rev. Anim. Biosci. 41: 269–290,
Capuco, A., S. E. Ellis, S. A. Hale, E. Long, R. A. Erdman, X. Zhao and M. J. Paape. 2003. Lactation persistency: insights from mammary cell proliferation studies. J. Anim. Sci. 81: 18-31.
Dessauge, F., V. Lollivier, L. Finot, S. Wiart, E. Cutullic, C. Disenhaus, S. Barbey and M. Boutinaud. 2011. Effects of nutrient restriction on mammary cell turnover in lactating dairy cows. J. Dairy Sci. 94: 4623-4635.
García-Ispierto, I., F. López-Gatius, P. Santolaria, J. L. Yániz, C. Nogareda and M. López-Béjar. 2007 Factors affecting the fertility of high producing dairy herds in northeastern Spain. Theriogenology 67: 632-638.
Grainger, C., M. J. Auldist, G. O’Brien, K. L. MacMillan and C. Culley. 2009. Effect of type of diet and energy intake on milk production of Holstein-Friesian cows with extended lactations. J. Dairy Sci. 92: 1479–1492.
Hernandez, L. L., J. L. Collier A. J. Vomachka R. J. Collier and N. D. Horseman. 2011. Suppression of lactation and acceleration of involution in the bovine mammary gland by a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor. J. Endocrinol. 209: 45–54.
Kolver, E. S., J. R. Roche, C. R. Burke, J. K. Kay and W. Aspin. 2007. Extending lactation in pasture-based dairy cows: genotype and diet effect on milk and reproduction. J. Dairy Sci. 90: 5518-5530.
Lehmann, J. O., L. Mogensen and T. Kristensen. 2017. Early lactation production, health, and welfare characteristics of cows selected for extended lactation. J. Dairy Sci. 100: 1487–1501.
Lehmann, J. O., L. Mogensen and T. Kristensen. 2019. Extended lactationsin dairy production: Economic, productivity and climatic impact atherd, farm and sector level. Livest. Sci. 220: 100-110.
López, S., J. France, N. E. Odongo, R. A. McBride, E. Kebreab, O. Alzahal, B.W. McBride and J. Dijkstra. 2015. On the analysis of Canadian Holstein dairy cow lactation curves using standard growth functions. J. Dairy Sci. 98: 2701-2712.
Marett, L. C., M. J. Auldist, P. J. Moate, W. J. Wales, L. K. Macmillan, F. R. Dunshea and B. J. Leury. 2015. Response of plasma glucose, insulin, and nonesterified fatty acids to intravenous glucose tolerance tests in dairy cows during a 670-day lactation. J. Dairy Sci. 98: 179-189.
Marett, L. C., M. J. Auldist, W. J. Wales, K. L. MacMillan, F. R. Dunshea and B.J. Leury. 2017. Responses of plasma glucose and nonesterified fatty acids to intravenous insulin tolerance tests in dairy cows during a 670-day lactation. J. Dairy Sci. 100: 3272–3281.
Marett, L. C., M. J. Auldist, W. J. Wales, K. L. MacMillan, F. R. Dunshea and B. J. Leury. 2018. Plasma glucose and nonesterified fatty acids response to epinephrine challenges in dairy cows during a 670-d lactation. J. Dairy Sci. 101: 3501–3513.
McNamara, S., J. J. Murphy, F. P. O’Mara, M. Rath and J. F. Mee. 2008. Effect of milking frequency in early lactation on energy metabolism, milk production and reproductive performance of dairy cows. Livest. Sci. 117: 70-78.
Mellado, M., J. M. Flores, A. De Santiago, F. G. Veliz, U. Macías-Cruz, L. Avendaño-Reyes and J. E. García. 2016. Extended lactation in high-yielding Holstein cows: Characterization of milk yield and risk factors for lactations >450 days. Livest. Sci. 189: 50-55.
Mellado, M., E. Sepulveda, C. A. Meza-Herrera, F. G. Véliz, J. R. Arevalo, J. Mellado and A. De Santiago. 2013. Effects of heat stress on reproductive efficiency of high yielding Holstein cows in a hot-arid environment. Rev. Colomb. Cienc. Pec. 26: 193-200.
Miller, N., L. Delbecchi, D. Petitclerc, G. F. Wagner, B. G., Talbot and A. Lacasse. 2006. Effect of stage of lactation and parity on mammary gland cell renewal. J. Dairy Sci. 89: 4669-4677.
Moate, J., S. R. O. Williams, M. C. Hannah, L. C. Marett, M. J. Auldist, J. L. Jacobs and W. J. Wales. 2017. Partitioning of dietary nitrogen in response to feeding cereal grain supplements to dairy cows during four periods of an extended lactation. Anim. Prod. Sci. 57: 1520–1524.
Murney, R., K. Stelwagen, T. T. Wheeler, J. K. Margerison and K. Singh. 2015. The effects of milking frequency in early lactation on milk yield, mammary cell turnover, and secretory activity in grazing dairy cows. J. Dairy Sci. 98: 305–311.
Norgaard, J., K., Theil, M. T. Sorensen and K. Sejrsen. 2008. Cellular mechanisms in regulating mammary cell turnover during lactation and dry period in dairy cows. J. Dairy Sci. 91: 2319–2327.
NRC-National Research Council. 2001. Nutrient Requirements of Dairy Cattle 7th ed Washington, DC: National Academic Press.
Österman, S. and J. Bertilsson. 2003. Extended calving interval in combination with milking two or three times per day: effects on milk production and milk composition. Livest. Prod. Sci. 82: 139–149.
Patton, J., D. A. Kenny, J. F. Mee, F. O’Mara, D. C. Wathes, M. Cook and J. J. Murphy. 2006. Effect of milking frequency and diet on milk production, energy balance, and reproduction in dairy cows. J. Dairy Sci. 89: 1478-1487.
Rajala-Schultz, J., N. Gott, K. L. Proudfoot and G. M. Schuenemann. 2018. Effect of milk cessation method at dry-off on behavioral activity of dairy cows. J. Dairy Sci. 101: 3261-3270.
Rodríguez-Godina, I. J., J. E. García, J. Mellado, L. Morales-Cruz, V. Contreras, U. Macías-Cruz and L. Avendaño-Reyes, M. Mellado. 2021. Permanence time in the herd and milk production of Holstein cows with up to five successive extended lactations. Trop. Anim. Health Prod. 53: 141-248.
Sawa, A. and M. Bogucki. 2009. Effect of extended lactations on cow milk and reproductive performance. Archiv Tierzucht 52: 219-229.
Sehested, J., C. Gaillard, J. O. Lehmann, G. M. Maciel, M. Vestergaard, M. R. Weisbjerg, L. Mogensen, L. B. Larsen, N. A. Poulsen and T. Kristensen. 2019. Review: extended lactation in dairy cattle. Animal 13: 65-74.
Smith, J. W., L. O. Ely, W. M. Graves and W. D. Gilson. 2002. Effect of milking frequency on dhi performance measures. J. Dairy Sci. 85: 3526–3533.
Sorensen, A., D. D. Muir and C. H. Knight. 2008. Extended lactation in dairy cows: Effects of milking frequency, calving season and nutrition on lactation persistency and milk quality J. Dairy Res. 75: 90–97.
Sorensen, M. T., J. Norgaard, K. Theil, M. Vestergaard and K. Sejrsen. 2006. Cell turnover and activity in mammary tissue during lactation and the dry period in dairy cows. J. Dairy Sci. 89: 4632–4639.
Stelwagen, K., C. C. Phyn, S. R. Davis, J. Guinard-Flament, D. Pomiès, J. R. Roche and J. K. Kay. 2013. Invited review: Reduced milking frequency: Milk production and management implications. J. Dairy Sci. 96: 3401–3413.
Van Amburgh, M. E., D. M. Galton, D. E. Bauman and R. W. Everett. 1997. Management and economics of extended calving intervals with use of bovine somatotropin. Livest. Prod. Sci. 50: 15-28.
Vijayakumar, M., J. H. Park, K. S. Ki, D. H. Lim, S. B. Kim, S. M Park, H. Y. Jeong, B. Y. Park and T. I. Kim. 2017. The effect of lactation number, stage, length, and milking frequency on milk yield in Korean Holstein dairy cows using automatic milking system. Asian-Australas. J. Anim. Sci. 30: 1093–1098.
Wall, E. H. and T. B. McFadden. 2012. A local affair: how the mammary gland adapts to changes in milking frequency. J. Anim. Sci. 90: 1695–1707.
Walsh, S. W., E. J. Williams and A. C. Evans. 2011. A review of the causes of poor fertility in high milk producing dairy cows. Anim. Reprod. Sci. 123: 127-138.
Weaver, S. R. and L. L. Hernandez. 2016. Autocrine-paracrine regulation of the mammary gland. J. Dairy Sci. 99: 842-853.
Williams, S. R. O., T. Clarke, M. C. Hannah, L. C. Marett, J. Moate, M. J. Auldist and W. J. Wales. 2013. Energy partitioning in herbage-fed dairy cows offered supplementary grain during an extended lactation. J. Dairy Sci. 96: 484–494.
Yart, L., L. Finot, V. Lollivier and F. Dessauge. 2013. Oestradiol enhances apoptosis in bovine mammary epithelial cells in vitro. J. Dairy Res. 80: 113–121.
Yart, L., V. Lollivier, G. Marnet and F. Dessauge. 2014. Role of ovarian secretions in mammary gland development and function in ruminants. Animal 8: 72–85.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.