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Effect of ruminally unprotected Echium oil on milk yield, composition and fatty acid profile in mid-lactation goats

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  12 February 2016

Manuela Renna*
Department of Agricultural, Forest and Food Sciences, University of Torino, Largo Paolo Braccini, 2 - 10095 Grugliasco (TO), Italy
Carola Lussiana
Department of Agricultural, Forest and Food Sciences, University of Torino, Largo Paolo Braccini, 2 - 10095 Grugliasco (TO), Italy
Paolo Cornale
Department of Agricultural, Forest and Food Sciences, University of Torino, Largo Paolo Braccini, 2 - 10095 Grugliasco (TO), Italy
Luca Maria Battaglini
Department of Agricultural, Forest and Food Sciences, University of Torino, Largo Paolo Braccini, 2 - 10095 Grugliasco (TO), Italy
Riccardo Fortina
Department of Agricultural, Forest and Food Sciences, University of Torino, Largo Paolo Braccini, 2 - 10095 Grugliasco (TO), Italy
Antonio Mimosi
Department of Agricultural, Forest and Food Sciences, University of Torino, Largo Paolo Braccini, 2 - 10095 Grugliasco (TO), Italy
*For correspondence; e-mail:


This study investigated the effects on goat milk yield and composition of a diet supplemented with Echium plantagineum oil (EPO). Twenty-four mid-lactation multiparous Camosciata goats were divided into two balanced groups and fed for 44 d a diet based on hay and concentrate, supplemented (EPO group, Echium) or not (CON group, control) with 40 ml of ruminally unprotected EPO. Individual milk yield was recorded and individual milk samples were collected at 11, 22, 33, and 44 d after supplementation. Milk samples were analysed for milk components and fatty acids (FA). Data were statistically analysed by repeated-measures analysis of variance. Milk yield, protein and lactose contents were significantly higher in EPO than CON group. The inclusion of EPO significantly decreased total saturated FA and total branched-chain FA, and contemporarily sharply increased trans biohydrogenation intermediates (P ⩽ 0·001). Milk concentration of α-linolenic, stearidonic and γ-linolenic acids increased by 23, 1000 and 67%, respectively (P ⩽ 0·001). Due to extensive ruminal biohydrogenation, their apparent transfer rate was less than 3%. As a consequence, the milk concentrations of very long-chain (VLC) polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA), such as eicosapentaenoic (20:5 n-3) and dihomo-γ-linolenic (20:3 n-6) acids, significantly increased with EPO treatment, but values remained very low. Docosahexaenoic acid (22:6 n-3) was undetectable in all analysed milk samples. Results show that ruminally unprotected EPO can enhance milk yield and protein and improve the overall goat milk FA profile. However, this kind of supplementation cannot be considered a valuable strategy to develop goat functional dairy products enriched with VLC n-3 PUFA for human consumption.

Research Article
Copyright © Proprietors of Journal of Dairy Research 2016 

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