Daily quarter-milk yields of eight high-yielding cows (24–28 kg/d) and eight heifers (14–24 kg/d) were measured to examine compensatory changes in milk production between quarters within an udder. Either one, two or three quarters per cow were left unmilked for 12 d, in early or late lactation, and then all quarters of all cows were milked normally for a further period of 12 d. Concentrate feeding levels were constant throughout the experiment.
The mean daily yield per cow fell to 26, 59 and 75% during the period of milking either one, two or three quarters respectively. Twelve days after resumption of normal milking the total daily yield per cow was the same for cows continuously milked in two, three or all four quarters. Daily yield in cows with only one quarter milked continuously recovered to only 78% of the level of the pretreatment period.
During the treatment period, the mean daily yield of the continuously milked quarters increased by almost 14% for cows milked in one quarter only, by more than 10% for two quarters milked, and by 4% per quarter if three quarters were milked. Milk yields of these quarters remained above their pretreatment levels when milking was resumed in the adjacent quarters.
There was no difference in the compensatory effect between cows and heifers in early lactation, but the compensatory effects were lower in late lactation heifers.