The geometry of the lactation curve based on Wood’s equation: a two-step prediction

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Abstract

Lactation records from cows of the southwestern Paraná state, Brazil, form the dataset of this study. We applied the information-theoretic approach to evaluate the ability of the nonlinear Wood, Brody, Dijkstra, and Gamma functions to fit to these data by employing a two-step technique based on nonlinear mixed-effects models and generalized linear mixed-effects models. Wood’s equation was fitted with the combination of a first-order autoregressive correlation structure and a variance function to account for heteroscedasticity. This version was the best choice to mimic lactation records. Some geometric attributes of Wood’s model were deduced, mainly the ascending specific rate from parturition to peak milk yield and the descending specific rate as a measure of the lactation persistence of the milk yield at peak production. Breed and parity order of the cows were assumed as fixed effects to obtain a reliable model fitting process. Regardless of breed, first-order parity cows had greater persistency than their older counterparts, and the greater the ascending rate of milk yield from the parturition to the peak, the sharper the decrease in milk yield post-peak; therefore, the rates (absolute values) of ascending and descending phases correlated positively. Nonetheless, the actual estimated values of the descending phase rates are negative. Wood’s equation was flexible enough to mimic either concave- and convex-shaped lactation profiles. The correlations between both peak milk yield and random estimates for β with total milk yield per lactation were positive. However, peak milk yield might not be the only variable used for ranking cows; the total milk yield integrates all information of the lactation profile through the estimated parameters of Wood’s equation.

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de Oliveira, J. G., Sant’Anna, D. F. D., Lourenço, M. C., Tavares, D. S., Rodrigues, M. T., Tedeschi, L. O., & Vieira, R. A. M. (2020). The geometry of the lactation curve based on Wood’s equation: a two-step prediction. Revista Brasileira de Zootecnia, 49, 1–21. https://doi.org/10.37496/rbz4920200023

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