Mean daily milk yield, fat percentage and protein percentage were recorded monthly, from August 1978 to July 1979. for 579 303 British Friesian, 6 608 Shorthorn, 27 374 Ayrshire, 19 529 Jersey, and 19 760 Guernsey cattle and classified by breed, parity and stage of lactation. Parameters of the function y(n) = anb ecn were estimated for each breed/parity group for yield, fat percentage and yield, protein percentage and yield, and energy (MJ) output as milk (b and c describe the shape of the curve, a is a scalar, n the week of lactation and e the base of natural logarithms). In the mature cows of each breed (parity 4 or more), the shape constants (b, c) for milk, fat and protein production in kg respectively were:
Generally, cows of all five breeds which calved in the winter produced about 4% more milk, fat and protein than average, and those that calved in the summer produced about 4% less. After allowing for that, and removing the effect of the calving pattern, a seasonal variation in production occurred to produce a peak in June 1979 nearly 12% above average for liquid milk, in July 1979 about 4% for fat and in June 1979 about 12% for protein production (not percentage). Trough month was January 1979 for all three characters: —8%; —4% and — 9% respectively.
A consideration of the theory of metabolizable energy suggested that the peak of energy output which occurred about week 4 of lactation in all breeds and parities, expressed as a fraction of the live weight of the animal, had a critical bearing on the need to mobilize body reserves.