The application of a mechanistic model to analyze the factors that affect the lactation curve parameters of dairy sheep in Mexico

Angeles-Hernandez, J C and Pollott, G E and Albarran-Portillo, B and Ramírz-Perez, A H and Lizarazo-Chaparro, A and Castelan Ortega, O and Gonzalez Ronzuillo, M (2018) The application of a mechanistic model to analyze the factors that affect the lactation curve parameters of dairy sheep in Mexico. SMALL RUMINANT RESEARCH, 164. pp. 58-63.

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Abstract

Pollott́s mechanistic model has been designed to describe lactation curve parameters based on the known biology of milk production and can be useful for analyzing the factors that affect this process. A total of 553 lactations (9956 weekly test-day records) of crossbred dairy sheep from four commercial farms located in Mexico, were analyzed to investigate environmental factors that influenced lactation curve parameters, using Pollott’s 5-parameter additive model. This model was fitted to each lactation using an iterative nonlinear procedure. The estimated parameters were maximum milk secretion potential (MSmax), relative rate of increase in cell differentiation (GR), maximum secretion loss (MSLmax), relative rate of decline in cell numbers (DR) and the proportion of parenchyma cells dead at parturition. A general linear model procedure was used to determine the effect of type of lambing, lambing number, flock and lambing season on total lactation milk yield (TMY), lactation length and estimated parameters of the Pollott model. Ewes had an average milk yield of 74.4 L with an average lactation length of 140 days. Flock had a significant (P < 0.05) effect on most of the analyzed traits, which can be explained by the different farmś management practices. The TMY were significantly (P = 0.005) higher for twin-lambing than single-lambing lactations. Sheep in their first lambing had lower TMY than those in their fourth lambing (P = 0.01), possibly explained by the lower values of MSmax (2.85 vs. 5.3 L) and the decrease in DR throughout life (P = 0.03). However, the relative GR was greatest (P = 0.04) during first lambing and then decreased as lambing number increased. Both lambing number and type of lambing also affected milk yield. The parameters of the Pollott model can be useful to explain, with a biological approximation, the dynamics of differentiation, secretion and death of mammary cells in dairy sheep.