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J Dairy Sci. 2007 Nov;90(11):5012-7.

Changes in physical properties of bovine milk from the colostrum period to early lactation.

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School of Land, Crop and Food Sciences, University of Queensland, Brisbane 4072, Queensland, Australia.


The aim of this study was to analyze individual cows' samples from the colostrum, postcolostrum, and early lactation periods to investigate how milk composition, physical properties, stability, and suitability for processing change throughout this period. Attention was paid to the first week postpartum in which the composition of bovine mammary secretion can change markedly. Properties including pH, titratable acidity, ethanol stability (ES), rennet clotting time, and casein micelle size were analyzed, together with some compositional factors such as fat, total protein, lactose, total and ionic calcium, magnesium, citrate, phosphorus, sodium, and potassium. Total Ca (36.2 mM) and free ionic Ca (2.58 mM), Mg (5.9 mM), P (32.2 mM), and Na (24.1 mM) appeared to be high on d 5 postpartum, having decreased substantially over the first 5 d; they gradually decreased thereafter. The average pH on d 5 was only 6.49, compared with 6.64 at 1 mo postpartum. Stability measurements showed that the average ES on d 5 was 70% and the rennet clotting time was 12.2 min, which were significantly lower than values at later stages. A number of milk properties including ES, pH, protein content, and Ca2+ concentration could be useful for identifying the point of transition from colostrum to the early lactation period. Knowing the composition and physical properties of colostrum and postcolostrum secretions will help establish when such milk is suitable for processing and determine the best use for that milk.

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