SPLASH! milk science update: May 2016

This month’s issue features the effects of cow’s milk-derived components on gut and brain development in neonatal piglets, an anthropologist’s perspective of weaning periods in non-human primates, the problems with current recommendations on full-fat dairy intake, and new on-farm technologies to improve fertility rates in dairy cows.

Lactoferrin and Milk Fat Globule Membrane Improve Gut and Brain Development in Piglets

Lactoferrin and Milk Fat Globule Membrane Improve Gut and Brain Development in Piglets

Infants develop rapidly in the first six months after birth, and breastfeeding has been shown to improve various aspects of this early development. Researchers have made efforts to figure out which components of human milk contribute to these beneficial effects. A pair of recent studies find that adding prebiotics and two compounds typically enriched in human milk to piglets’ diets can improve their gut and brain development. Read More...

Evolving Motherhood: When to Wean Part I

Evolving Motherhood: When to Wean Part I

The “evolved” age of weaning is a topic of debate not only among the general public but clinicians and scholars as well. Weaning, however, is not an event—it is a process. When that process begins and how long mothers and infants negotiate milk transfer varies across mother-infant dyads. Additionally, adaptations reflect the selection of traits in ancestral populations; changing ecological conditions can lead to a mismatch between adaptations and current ecological conditions. What was once adaptive in landscapes roamed by early humans may not be the best fit in contemporary urban and suburban environments. And lastly, for these types of behavioral biology traits, there is no precise “one size fits all” adaptive threshold. Read More...

Has Dairy Fat Been Given a Bad Rap?

Has Dairy Fat Been Given a Bad Rap?

Every five years, a panel of U.S. experts on nutrition convene to scour the scientific literature and determine what constitutes a healthy diet. Their conclusions, presented in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA), are “science-based nutrition guidance” designed to “improve the nation’s health." Right now, the nation’s biggest health problem is cardiovascular disease (CVD), so it should come as no surprise that the most recent edition of the DGA focuses on reducing the risk of CVD by limiting the intake of saturated fats from meat, oils, and dairy. There is just one problem with this “science-based nutrition guidance”—mounting scientific evidence over the last several years suggests that not all saturated fats negatively influence heart health. Namely, saturated fats from dairy have different metabolic effects than those derived from other food sources. Rather than finding an association between dairy foods and CVD, the literature suggests a potential protective effect of dairy on heart disease, stroke, and even insulin resistance. By recommending only low- or fat-free dairy foods, are the guidelines guiding us in the wrong direction? Read More...

Automated Dairy Farming Gathers Momentum

Automated Dairy Farming Gathers Momentum

The Dairy Science Unit at The University of Sydney has been developing future dairy concepts and practices for over 10 years. Along with collaborators and partners in industry, the focus has moved from sustainable farming practices to the development of large herd, automated milking systems in pasture based settings, and increasingly expanded automation of dairy farming theme. This is a trend that is emerging in agriculture on a global scale, and dairy stands to benefit enormously from this revolution. Read More...