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J Dairy Sci. 2007 Oct;90(10):4884-96.

Tanker milk variability according to farm feeding practices: vitamins A and E, carotenoids, color, and terpenoids.

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Enita Clermont, Unité Elevage et Production des Ruminants, 63370 Lempdes, France.


The aim of this work was to study the variability in the composition of bulk milk mixtures of fat-soluble compounds (vitamins A and E, carotenoids, and terpenoids) and assess the links with milk production conditions. Milk from 10 collection trips in the French department of the Haute-Loire (10 to 36 herds per trip) was sampled in the tanker twice during the winter period and 3 times during the grazing season. The collection trips differed in their altitude (440 to 1,150 m) and the forage system (grass or based on corn silage). Vitamins A and E, carotenoids, and terpenoids of the 50 tanker loads of milk were analyzed. Data of milk production conditions in the 204 farms made it possible to constitute indicators for the collection trip and to define 50 mean herds. The relationships between mean herd characteristics (breed, stage of lactation, and feed) and milk characteristics were investigated. The constituents of tanker loads of milk were comparable to those observed in milk produced by groups of animals receiving contrasting diets (rich in concentrate or corn silage vs. pasture). The characteristics of the milk differed according to the period; those produced at grazing were more yellow (1.02 +/- 0.4; mean of difference) and richer in beta-carotene, lutein, vitamin E (2.0 +/- 1.2, 0.23 +/- 0.12, and 6.1 +/- 5.0 mug/g of fat, respectively), and sesquiterpenes (2.7 +/- 2.5) than winter. The variations observed for beta-carotene, lutein, and vitamin E were linked to the proportion of grazed grass or grass silage in the forage (r = 0.66, 0.69, and 0.51, respectively), unlike the vitamin A content. During grazing, 20 of the 32 terpenoids identified were associated with the proportion of permanent grassland available for grazing or cut. These results show that feeding is an effective way to modify the quality of dairy products, even in the case of bulk tank milk mixtures. Dairy plants could market different milks, which would contain specific compositions.

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