UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Modeling milk production in the lactation period and the effect of feeding frequency on milk production Faulkner, Katharine R.


Human milk production is controlled by a variety of internal and external factors, including hormones, neurons, suckling stimulus and milk removal. One method for increasing milk production suggested to mothers who want to produce more milk is cluster feeding: splitting one feeding into a cluster of multiple feedings. Phenomenological models have been proposed to describe average weekly milk production rates in dairy cattle, but these models do not take into account the effect of the milk removal schedule used. In this thesis, two ordinary differential equation models for describing milk production and milk removal are presented: Model 1, which assumes a linear rate of milk removal during feeding, and Model 2, which uses physical models of fluid flow through a system of ducts to estimate the rate of milk removal. These models are qualitatively very similar, but Model 2 allows for examination of differences in milk dynamics between alveoli at different depths in the mammary gland. 24 hour milk production was then predicted for each model version using various cluster feeding schedules. Feeding schedules which had the most frequent and regular feedings elicited small increases in milk production during a day compared to less frequent or regular schedules. This small increase in milk production suggests that cluster feeding may not be an effective method of increasing production, as other factors that decrease production, like stress, may override this small effect. More work needs to be done to test these models in order to determine an effective method for increasing milk production.

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