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J Dairy Res. 2008 Feb;75(1):48-54. doi: 10.1017/S0022029907003019. Epub 2008 Jan 29.

Milk quality as affected by grazing time of day in Mediterranean goats.

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Dipartimento di Scienze Agronomiche, Agrochimiche e delle Produzioni Animali, DACPA, University of Catania, Via Valdisavoia 5, 95123, Italy.


We evaluated the effect of grazing time of day on goat milk chemical composition, renneting properties and milk fatty acid profile in a Mediterranean grazing system. Sixteen lactating Girgentana goats were divided into two experimental groups and housed in individual pens, where they received 500 g/d of barley grain. For 5 weeks the two groups were left to graze in two fenced plots on a ryegrass sward as follows: morning group (AM), from 9.00 to 13.00; afternoon group (PM), from 12.00 to 16.00. In selected herbage, water-soluble carbohydrates (WSC) increased in the afternoon (204 v. 174 g/kg dry matter, DM; P=0.01), whereas crude protein (CP) and linolenic acid decreased (respectively, 16.7 v. 19.8% DM; P<0.01 and 26.8 v. 30.4 g/kg DM; P<0.01). Pasture dry matter intake (DMI) was significantly higher in the afternoon (0.82 v. 0.75 kg/d; P=0.026). Fat corrected milk production (FCM), milk fat and lactose content were not affected by treatment, whereas protein and titrable acidity ( degrees SH) increased in the PM group (respectively 3.56 v. 3.42%; P=0.01; 3.55 v. 3.22 degrees SH/50 ml; P=0.01). In contrast, milk urea content was significantly higher in the AM group (381 v. 358 mg/l; P=0.037). The results seem to indicate that an improvement in ruminal efficiency might be obtained by shifting grazing time from morning to afternoon, as a consequence of a more balanced ratio between nitrogenous compounds and sugars. Indeed, the higher linolenic acid and the lower conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) (respectively 1.02 v. 0.90, P=0.037; 0.71 v. 0.81% of total fatty acids, P=0.022) in the milk of goats grazing in the afternoon seem to indicate a reduced biohydrogenation activity in the PM group.

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