Project: Research project

Project Details


Milk fat is currently over 55% of the value of milk, is highly variable, and is responsive to diet and management providing a key opportunity to increase farm income. Acetate is a product of microbial fermentation in the rumen and is a major energy source for the cow and the essential building blocks for milk fat synthesis. However, the effect of acetate on milk fat has been largely ignored over the past three decades. Our hypothesis is that increasing acetate supply increases milk fat synthesis through stimulation of regulators of lipid synthesis in the mammary gland. Specifically we will first determine how increasing acetate increases milk fat synthesis in the mammary gland, we will then identify dietary factors that lead to a limitation in acetate supply, and lastly will determine if genetic factors associated with milk fat yield interact with acetate supply. We expect that acetate is directly stimulating increased expression of enzymes important for milk fat synthesis in the mammary gland. We also expect to identify dietary and cow factors that interact with acetate supply allowing optimal application of this knowledge in the field. The knowledge gained in the experiment will improve our understanding of milk fat synthesis, demonstrate the importance of acetate supply, and provide nutritional strategies to increase milk fat. We expect that optimizing acetate supply can increase milk fat by 0.2 percentage units, which will increase farm income by over $60 per cow per year or over $500 million per year if adopted across the industry.

Effective start/end date5/15/195/14/23


  • National Institute of Food and Agriculture: $500,000.00


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