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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2011

Relationships between milking frequency, lactation persistency and milk yield in Swedish Red heifers and cows milked in a voluntary attendance automatic milking system

Pettersson G, Svennersten-Sjaunja K, Knight CH


A large dataset comprising output from an automatic milking (AM) system between 1999 and 2006 was examined and a total of 172 cow lactation curves and 68 heifer lactation curves were identified for further analysis. Relationships between milking frequency at different stages of lactation and lactation persistency and total lactation yield were determined. Cows had higher peak and total milk yields than heifers, but heifers had higher persistency (defined as the rate of decline in milk yield between days 100 and 300 post calving). Milking frequency did not differ significantly between cows and heifers in early lactation, but thereafter decreased significantly more in cows than in heifers. The effect of milking frequency on yield characteristics was analysed by comparing the highest and lowest quartiles for milking frequency. High milking frequency in early lactation was consistently associated with increased peak yield. High milking frequency averaged across the whole lactation was associated with increased peak yield in both cows and heifers, and with improved lactation persistency in cows only. This resulted in total lactation yield that was 21% greater in the high quartile cows compared with the low.


Dairy cattle; automatic milking; milking frequency; lactation persistency

Published in

Journal of Dairy Research
2011, Volume: 78, number: 3, pages: 379-384