Gaines, Walter Lee

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Gaines, Walter Lee

(b. Crete, Illinois, 17 March 1881; d. Urbana, Illinois, 20 November 1950)

dairy science.

Gaines was raised on a farm near Crete, where he received his preliminary education and the direction for his lifework. The prospect of improving farm production guided his studies at the University of Illinois, from which he received the B. S. degree in 1908 and the M. S. in agriculture in 1910. He was able to focus the direction of his research career by graduate work at the University of Chicago, where he obtained the Ph.D. in 1915 with a contribution to the physiology of lactation.

After a brief interval at his home farm in Crete, Gaines returned to the University of Illinois to assist a federal program for increasing food production during World War I. He was professor of milk production at the University of Illinois from 1919 to 1949, during which time he wrote twenty-nine research reports, was co-author of seventeen others, and contributed frequently to farm journals, primarily on the problems of increasing milk production.

His studies on milk secretion included the production of lactose; the effects on lactation of pituitary hormones, blood transfusions, and pregnancy; the storage capacity of udders; the rates of secretion of milk constituents; and the relationship between milk yield and frequency of conception. By intravenous injections of pituitary extracts, Gaines demonstrated that milk is formed continuously by mammary alveoli. He studied the effect of weight changes on future milk production during early development and showed the efficacy of milk production per live weight as a measure of lactation in genetic studies. He also was able to distinguish between milk nutrients assimilated for maintenance and those transformed into milk. He devised a widely used “fat-corrected milk” (F. C. M.) formula for expressing the energy equivalent of milk by comparison with a base of 4 percent butterfat.

In 1949 the American Dairy Science Association gave Gaines its highest honor, the Borden Award, citing him as “the modest leader in the United States of the scientific approach to the problems of milk secretion”.


Gaines’s works include “A Contribution to the Physiology of Lactation, in American Journal of Physiology, 38 (1915), 285–312; “Relative Rates of Secretion of Various Milk Constituents”, in Journal of Dairy Science, 8 (1925), 486–496; “Milk Yield in Relation to the Recurrence of Conception”, ibid., 10 (1927), 117–125; “The Energy Basis of Measuring Milk Yield in Dairy Cows”, in Illinois Agricultural Experiment Station Bulletin (1928), p. 308; “Size of Cow and Efficiency of Milk Production”, in Journal of Dairy Science, 14 (1931), 14–21; and “Live Weight and Milk-Energy Yield in the Wisconsin Dairy Cow Competition”. ibid., 22 (1939), 49–53.

Richard P. Aulie