Within-milking variation in milk composition and fatty acid profile of holstein dairy cows

D. E. Rico, E. R. Marshall, J. Choi, K. E. Kaylegian, C. D. Dechow, K. J. Harvatine

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17 Scopus citations


Changes in milk composition during a milking are well characterized, but variation in milk fatty acid (FA) profile is not well described and may affect the accuracy of in-line milk composition analyzers and could potentially be used for selective segregation of milk. Within-milking samples were collected from 8 multiparous high-producing Holstein cows (54.86 ± 6.8. kg of milk/d; mean ± standard deviation). A milk-sampling device was designed to allow collection of multiple samples during a milking without loss of vacuum or interruption of milk subsampling. Milk was collected during consecutive morning and afternoon milkings (12-h intervals) and was replicated 1. wk later. Each sample represented approximately 20% of the milking and was analyzed for fat, true protein, and lactose concentration and FA profile. Milk fat concentration markedly increased over the course of milk let down (4.4 and 4.2 percentage units at the a.m. and p.m. milking, respectively), whereas milk fat globule size did not change. Milk protein and lactose concentration decreased slightly during milking. Modest changes in milk FA profile were also observed, as milk de novo and 16-C FA concentrations increased approximately 10 and 8%, respectively, whereas the concentration of preformed FA decreased about 7% during the milking. In agreement, mean milk FA chain length and unsaturation modestly decreased during milking (0.59 and 0.014 U, respectively). The observed changes in milk fat concentration during a milking are consistent with previous reports and reflect the dynamic nature of milk fat secretion from the mammary gland. Changes in milk FA profile are not expected to practically affect the accuracy of spectroscopy methods for determination of milk fat concentration. Furthermore, the small variation in FA profile during a milking limits the use of within-milking milk segregation to tailor milk FA profile.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4259-4268
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of dairy science
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Food Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Genetics


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