Milkfat composition influences the nutritional value and manufacturing characteristics of milk. This research studied the influence of: 1) stage of lactation on the concentration of unsaturated fatty acids (UFA) in milkfat of Holstein-Friesian, Jersey and Crossbred cows, 2) segregation of cows according to their UFA concentration in milkfat. The concentration of UFA in milkfat was predicted with a calibration equation using Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy. The data (21,757 test-day records) were analysed using a mixed model with a third-order orthogonal polynomial. In the three breeds studied, after early lactation the concentration of UFA in milkfat decreased steadily as the lactation progressed, but in Holstein-Friesian cows it increased slightly at the end of lactation. Throughout lactation, Holstein-Friesian cows produced milkfat with a higher concentration of UFA than Jersey and Crossbred cows. In each herd, cows were split into a high and a low group according to the average UFA concentration of the herd. The high UFA group had higher (P <0.001) milk yield, but lower (P <0.001) yields and concentrations of fat and protein than the low UFA group. This study indicates that concentration of UFA in milkfat is affected by breed and stage of lactation in New Zealand dairy cattle.
Proceedings of the New Zealand Society of Animal Production, Volume 71, Invercargill, 203-207, 2011
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