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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2010

Day-to-day variation in milk yield and milk composition at udder quarter level

Forsback L., Lindmark-Mansson H., Andren A., Akerstedt M., Andree L., Svennersten-Sjaunja K.


Automatic in-line measurement of milk composition and milk yield could be a useful tool in management of the dairy herd. Data on milk components and milk yield provide information on milk quality alterations and cow health status but are also useful in planning feeding and breeding. In automatic milking systems, udder quarters are milked individually, enabling analysis and recording at the udder-quarter level. Frequent records of components require knowledge about day-today variations. A component with greater day-to-day variation needs more frequent sampling when used as a diagnostic tool and for management decisions. Earlier studies have described the day-to-day variations in milk components for cow composite milk, but with the quarter milking technique and the possible sampling at the udder-quarter level, knowledge about day-to-day variations at the udder-quarter level is needed. In this study, udder-quarter and cow composite milk samples were collected from 42 consecutive milkings of 10 cows during 21 d. Milk yield was recorded and the milk was analyzed for total protein, whey protein, casein, fat, lactose, and somatic cell count. The results showed that the day-to-day variations and mean values for 4 healthy udder quarters within a cow were similar. In addition, different milk components had different levels of day-to-day variation, the least variation being found in lactose (0.9%) and the greatest in fat (7.7%). This suggests that repeated milk sampling and analysis at the udder-quarter level can be used to detect alterations in composition and cow health and would, thus, be helpful in the management of the dairy herd.


dairy cow; milk composition; udder quarter; day-to-day variation

Published in

Journal of Dairy Science
2010, Volume: 93, number: 8, pages: 3569-3577