For many years it has been known from overseas studies that the composition and physical characteristics of milkfat are influenced by diet. The feeding of oilseeds had been shown to reduce the concentration in milkfat of short- and medium-chain-length fatty acids and to increase the concentration of long-chain unsaturated fatty acids. It was also reported that these changes resulted in softer milkfat and butter with improved spreadability at low temperatures. With this knowledge, a six-year collaborative research programme between the New Zealand Dairy Research Institute and Dexcel was undertaken to investigate the economic feasibility of producing a spreadable butter directly from the cow. The programme investigated the influence of each component in pastoral dairying that may possibly influence milkfat composition. These were: pasture, (location, defoliation interval, and species effects) on pasture lipid composition, grazed pasture effects (species and grazing rotation), supplementary feed effects (ruminally and non-ruminally protected oilseeds), frequency of feeding, and milking management. Following the study of each component the various components will be combined to develop a total farm management system to achieve the programme’s goals. The goal of producing a spreadable butter directly from the cow has been achieved, but the programme has yet to develop a profitable farm system to produce the product under existing returns for milksolids.
Proceedings of the New Zealand Society of Animal Production, Volume 62, Palmerston North, 100-103, 2002
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