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J Dairy Res. 2007 Nov;74(4):484-91. Epub 2007 Oct 9.

Investigation of the vitamins A and E and beta-carotene content in milk from UK organic and conventional dairy farms.

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Division of Animal Production and Public Health, University of Glasgow Veterinary School, Bearsden Road, Bearsden, Glasgow, G61 1QH, UK.


During a 12-month longitudinal study, bulk-tank milk was collected from organic (n=17) and conventional (n=19) dairy farms in the UK. Milk samples were analysed for vitamin A (retinol), vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) and beta-carotene content. The farming system type, herd production level and nutritional factors affecting the milk fat vitamin content were investigated by use of mixed model analyses. Conventionally produced milk fat had a higher mean content of vitamin A than organically produced milk fat, although there were no significant differences in the vitamin E or beta-carotene contents between the two types of milk fat. Apart from farming system, other key factors that affected milk fat vitamin content were season, herd yield and concentrate feeding level. Milk vitamin content increased in the summer months and in association with increased concentrate feeding, whilst higher-yielding herds had a lower milk vitamin E and beta-carotene content. Thus, conventional dairy farms in the UK produced milk with a higher vitamin A content, possibly owing to increased vitamin A supplementation in concentrate feeds. However, knowledge of the effects of season, access to fresh grazing or specific silage types and herd production level may also be used by all producers and processors to enhance the vitamin content in milk.

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