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Accuracy and application of milk fatty acid estimation with diffuse reflectance near-infrared spectroscopy

  • Andreas Melfsen (a1), Max Holstermann (a2), Angelika Haeussermann (a1), Joachim Molkentin (a3), Andreas Susenbeth (a2) and Eberhard Hartung (a1)...


Near infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) has the potential to estimate contents of fatty acids (FA) in milk frequently at-farm or during daily milking routine. In this study, a total of 738 raw milk spectra collected from 33 Holstein cows over a period of 30 weeks were recorded. Reference data on FA composition in milk and in milk fat were analysed in laboratory. Calibration models were calculated for single FA and groups of FA in milk and in milk fat. Validation resulted in sufficient Ratio of Prediction to Deviation (RPD) values for some single FA and in higher RPD values for groups of FA when concentrations of FA in milk were predicted. Since the concentrations of most FA in milk are highly correlated with milk fat content, the prediction of FA contents in milk fat is more meaningful when independent predictions are intended. The accuracy of predicting single FA concentrations in milk fat is rather poor for most FA but still comparable to alternative analysing methods such as MIR analysis. The estimation of different groups of FA in milk fat resulted in an improved accuracy based on higher RPD values, which was sufficient to mirror the development in the different lactation phases. The course of cow individual long chain fatty acid (LCFA) concentration in the early lactation stage can be an indicator for body fat mobilisation. The accurate estimation of the extent and duration of body fat mobilisation in cow individuals was rather difficult with NIR predicted LCFA concentrations and would require a higher measuring frequency than applied in this study.


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