Skip to main content Accessibility help

Phyto-oestrogens in herbage and milk from cows grazing white clover, red clover, lucerne or chicory-rich pastures

  • C. Andersen (a1), T. S. Nielsen (a1), S. Purup (a1), T. Kristensen (a2), J. Eriksen (a2), K. Søegaard (a2), J. Sørensen (a3) and X. C. Fretté (a3)...

A grazing experiment was carried out to study the concentration of phyto-oestrogens in herbage for cattle and in milk during two periods (May and June). Forty-eight Danish Holstein cows were divided into four groups with four treatment diets; white clover, red clover, lucerne and chicory-rich pastures. Each experimental period lasted 15 days. Herbage samples from the first day and individual milk samples from the last day of the experimental period were analysed for phyto-oestrogens using LC-MS technique. The total concentration of phyto-oestrogens was 21 399 mg/kg dry matter (DM) for red clover and 238 to 466 mg/kg DM for the other three herbages mainly due to a much higher concentration of biochanin A, formononetin and glycitein in red clover. In the milk, the total concentration of phyto-oestrogens was 253 to 397 μg/l for red clover milk and 56 to 91 μg/l in the milk from the other three treatments. This was especially due to a higher concentration of equol, daidzein and formononetin in the red clover milk. The concentration of biochanin A was significantly higher in milk from the red clover treatment in May while no differences were observed in June. Enterodiol was similar across treatments while the concentration of enterolactone was significantly lower for red clover milk compared with the other treatments. Of the tested pastures, red clover appears to have the highest concentration and to be the best source of phyto-oestrogens, especially equol, in bovine milk.

Corresponding author
Hide All
Andersen, C, Hansen-Møller, J, Weisbjerg, MR, Sejrsen, K 2009. The content of phyto-oestrogens in milk and feedstuffs from cows fed clover grass silage or different concentrations of alfalfa silage. Animal 3, 617622.
Antignac, JP, Cariou, R, Le Bizec, B, André, F 2004. New data regarding phytoestrogens content in bovine milk. Food Chemistry 87, 275281.
Benassayag, C, Perrot-Applanat, M, Ferre, F 2002. Phytoestrogens as modulators of steroid action in target cells. Journal of Chromatography. B, Analytical Technologies in the Biomedical and Life Sciences 777, 233248.
Booth, NL, Cassia, RO, Ping, Y, Totura, S, Deng, Y, Hedayat, AS, Bolton, JL, Pauli, GF, Farnsworth, NR 2006. Seasonal variation of red clover (Trifolium pratense L., Fabaceae) isoflavones and estrogenic activity. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 54, 12771282.
Committee on Toxicity of Chemicals in Food 2003. COT report – phytoestrogens and health. Food Standards Agency, London.
Eriksen, J, Søegaard, K, Kristensen, T, Fretté, XC, Wiking, L, Nielsen, JH 2007. Herbage and milk productivity and quality when grazing different legumes and herbs. Grassland Science in Europe 12, 212214.
Hoikkala, A, Mustonen, E, Saastmoinen, I, Jokela, T, Teponen, J, Saloniemi, H, Wähälä, K 2007. High levels of equol in organic skimmed Finnish cow milk. Molecular Nutrition & Food Research 51, 782786.
Kim, HA, Jeong, KS, Kim, YK 2008. Soy extract is more potent than genistein on tumor growth inhibition. Anticancer Research 28, 28372841.
Kurzer, MS, Xu, X 1997. Dietary phytoestrogens. Annual Review of Nutrition 17, 353381.
Lundh, T 1995. Metabolism of estrogenic Isoflavones in domestic animals. Proceedings of the Society of Experimental Biology and Medicine 208, 3339.
Purup, S, Hansen-Møller, J, Sejrsen, K, Christensen, LP, Lykkesfeldt, AE, Leffers, H, Skakkebæk, NE 2005. Increased phytoestrogen content in organic milk and the biological importance. Newsletter from Danish Research Centre for Organic Farming, No. 2. Danish Research Centre for Organic Farming, Tjele, Denmark.
Saloniemi, H, Wähälä, K, Nykänen-Kurki, P, Kallela, K, Saastamoinen, I 1995. Phytoestrogen content and estrogenic effect of legume fodder. Proceedings of the Society for Experimental Biology and Medicine 208, 1317.
SAS Institute 1999. SAS/STAT Software. Release 8.02. SAS Institute Inc., Cary, NC, USA.
Simonsen, F 2006. Analyseteknik, instrumentering og metoder, 2nd edition. Nyt Teknisk Forlag, Copenhagen V, Denmark.
Sivesind, E, Seguin, P 2005. Effects of the environment, cultivar, maturity, and preservation method on red clover isoflavone concentration. Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry 53, 63976402.
Steinshamn, H, Purup, S, Thuen, E, Hansen-Møller, J 2008. Effects of clover silages and concentrate supplementation on the content of phytoestrogens in dairy cow milk. Journal of Dairy Science 91, 27152725.
Thompson, LU, Robb, P, Serraino, M, Cheung, F 1991. Mammalian lignan production from various foods. Nutrition and Cancer 16, 4352.
Tsao, R, Papadopoulus, Y, Yang, R, Young, JC, McRae, K 2006. Isoflavone profiles of red clovers and their distribution in different parts harvested at different growing stages. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 54, 57975805.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

  • ISSN: 1751-7311
  • EISSN: 1751-732X
  • URL: /core/journals/animal
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *



Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed