With the failure of current nutritional schemes for dairy ruminants to predict yields of milk and milk components, and perceptions of milk's nutritional value following recommendations to reduce dietary fat intake, an integrated approach to feeding and metabolism needs to be developed. Such a system must therefore be ‘metabolite’ based.
An ability to predict changes in milk constituent output in response to alterations in nutrition requires, in the first instance, the identification of specific precursors for milk component synthesis in the lactating mammary gland. Arteriovenous differences across the mammary gland indicate that blood free amino acids (AA) are either taken-up by the gland in excess, equal to, or in insufficient amounts compared to their output in milk (1). Isotope labelling experiments have indicated that, in addition to AA free in blood, the mammary gland utilises a substantial amount of AA derived from constitutive mammary gland protein breakdown (2). The present experiment was designed to investigate the AA precursors and kinetics of milk protein synthesis and to confirm and extend the latter observations.