Bordonaro, Salvatore and Dimauro, Corrado and Criscione, Andrea and Marletta, Donata and Macciotta, Nicolò Pietro Paolo (2013) The Mathematical modeling of the lactation curve for dairy traits of the donkey (Equus asinus). Journal of Dairy Science, Vol. 96 (6), p. 4005-4014. eISSN 1525-3198. Article.
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In recent years, an increase in the number of donkeys farmed in Italy as a consequence of the growing demand for donkey milk for direct consumption has been observed. Some research has been carried out on jenny milk composition and on its nutritional properties, whereas milk production features are scarcely described for this species. In this work, the lactation curve shape of donkeys for milk yield and composition was investigated. A total of 453 test-day records for milk yield, fat and protein percentage, and somatic cell count of 62 lactations measured on 46 multiparous jennies of the Ragusano breed were considered. Effects of herd, age, and foaling season were assessed by using a mixed model analysis. Average and individual lactation curves were fitted using the Wood incomplete gamma function, the Cappio-Borlino modified gamma, and a third-order Legendre orthogonal polynomial model. Donkeys foaling between 6- and 10-yr-old had the highest test-day milk yield (about 1.85 kg/d). Donkeys foaling in winter and autumn had a higher daily milk yield compared with those foaling in summer and spring. Less defined results were obtained for composition traits. The general pattern of the donkey lactation curve is similar to the standard shape reported for the main dairy ruminant species, with a peak yield occurring at about 5 wk from parturition. Younger jennies tended to have lower production peaks and higher lactation persistency. Similarly to what is reported for dairy cattle, a large variability in individual patterns has been observed. No differences in goodness of fit have been observed between the models in the case of average lactation curves, whereas orthogonal polynomials were more efficient in fitting individual patterns.
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