Skip to main content Accessibility help

Capacity of milk composition to identify the feeding system used to feed dairy cows

  • Fernando Vicente (a1), Carme Santiago (a1), José D Jiménez-Calderón (a1) and Adela Martínez-Fernández (a1)


This Research Paper addresses the hypothesis that is possible to identify the type of feed used for dairy cows by means of the analysis of milk composition and the fatty acid profile of milk fat. Sixteen dairy farms were monitored during 1 year with quarterly visits between summer 2014 and spring 2015. Rations varied throughout the year due to annual dynamic change of forage production, forage rotation, variation of nutrient requirements according to physiological state of the animal, etc. The ingredients of the rations were analysed by cluster identifying five feeding systems based on the main ingredient of the diet: grazing, maize silage, grass silage, dry forage and concentrate. Milk composition could explain up to 91·3% of the total variability among feeding systems, while fatty acid profile could explain only up to 61·2% of total variability. However, when the sum of types of fatty acids and their ratios are taken, up to 93·5% of total variability could be explained. The maize silage system had the greatest milk yield, protein, solid non-fat and urea proportions, as well as the highest proportion of saturated fatty acid and lowest concentration of trans11 18 : 1, cis9 18 : 1 and 18 : 3 n3. Principal component analysis distinguishes the maize silage system from other feeding systems, both from milk composition and milk fatty acid profile. Concentrate system overlapped partially with the grazing, grass silage and dry forage systems. The latter systems had the highest concentrations of cis9 18 : 1, trans11 18 : 1 and 18 : 3, but there was no clear differentiation among them.


Corresponding author

*For correspondence; e-mail:


Hide All
Argamentería, A, Vicente, F, Martínez-Fernández, A, Cueto, MA & Roza-Delgado, B 2006 Influence of partial total mixed rations amount on the grass voluntary intake by dairy cows. Grassland Science in Europe 11 161163
Bargo, F, Muller, LD, Delahoy, JE & Cassidy, TW 2002 Performance of high producing dairy cows with three different feeding systems combining pasture and total mixed rations. Journal of Dairy Science 85 29482963
Borreani, G, Coppa, M, Revello-Chion, A, Comino, L, Giaccone, D, Ferlay, A & Tabacco, E 2013 Effect of different feeding strategies in intensive dairy farming systems on milk fatty acid profile, and implications on feeding costs in Italy. Journal of Dairy Science 96 68406855
Butler, G, Collomb, M, Rehberger, B, Sanderson, R, Eyre, M & Leifert, C 2009 Conjugated linoleic acid isomer concentrations in milk from high- and low-input management dairy systems. Journal of Science of Food and Agriculture 89 697705
Capuano, E, Van der Veer, G, Boerrigter-Eenling, R, Elgersma, A, Rademaker, J, Sterian, A & Van Ruth, SM 2014 Verification of fresh grass feeding, pasture grazing and organic farming by cows farm milk fatty acid profile. Food Chemistry 164 234241
Elgersma, A, Tamminga, S & Ellen, G 2006 Modifying milk composition through forage. Animal Feed Science and Technology 131 207225
Griinari, JM & Bauman, DE 2006 Milk fat depression: concepts, mechanisms and management. In Ruminant Physiology: Digestion, Metabolism and Impact of Nutrition on Gene Expression, Immunology and Stress, pp. 3892291 (Eds Sejrsen, K, Hvelplund, T & Nielsen, MO). Netherlands: Wageningen
Hernández-Ortega, M, Martínez-Fernández, A, Soldado, A, González, A, Arriaga-Jordán, CM, Argamentería, A, de la Roza-Delgado, B & Vicente, F 2014 Effect of total mixed ration composition and daily grazing pattern on milk production, composition and fatty acids profile of dairy cows. Journal of Dairy Research 81 471478
Jiménez-Calderón, JD, Santiago, C, Martínez-Fernández, A & Vicente, F 2015 Current state of the feeding systems for dairy cows in the Principality of Asturias (Spain). Grassland Science in Europe 20 105106
Kay, JK, Roche, JR, Kolver, ES, Thomson, NA & Baumgard, LH 2005 A comparison between feeding systems (pasture and TMR) and the effect of vitamin E supplementation on plasma and milk fatty acid profiles in dairy cows. Journal of Dairy Research 73 322332
Knaus, W 2016 Perspectives on pasture versus indoor feeding of dairy cows. Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture 96 917
Larsen, MK, Andersen, KK, Kaufmann, N & Wiking, L 2014 Seasonal variation in the composition and melting behavior of milk fat. Journal of Dairy Science 97 47034712
Liu, C, Schingoethe, DJ & Stegeman, GA 2000 Corn distillers grains versus blend of protein supplements with or without ruminally protected amino acids for lactating cows. Journal of Dairy Science 83 20752084
Luykx, DM & van Ruth, SM 2008 An overview of analytical methods for determining the geographical origin of food products. Food Chemistry 107 897911
Martin, B, Cornu, A, Kondjoyan, N, Ferlay, A, Verdier-Metz, I, Pradel, P & Berdagué, JL 2005 Milk indicators for recognizing the types of forages eaten by dairy cows. EAAP Publication 112 127136
Martínez-Fernández, A, Argamntería, A & Roza Delgado, B 2014 Manejo de forrajes para ensilar. In [Management of Forages for Silage] (Ed Servicio Regional de Investigación y Desarrollo Agroalimentario del Principado de Asturias). Villaviciosa, Spain: SERIDA. (In Spanish)
McCarthy, B, Delaby, L, Pierce, KM, Journot, F & Horan, B 2011 Meta-analysis of the impact of stocking rate on the productivity of pasture-based milk production systems. Animal 5 784794
Mitani, T, Kobayashi, K, Ueda, K & Kondo, S 2016 Discrimination of ‘grazing milk’ using milk fatty acid profile in the grassland dairy area in Hokkaido. Animal Science Journal 87 233241
Morales-Almaráz, E, de la Roza-Delgado, B, González, A, Soldado, A, Rodríguez, ML, Peláez, M & Vicente, F 2011 Effect of feeding system on unsaturated fatty acid levels in milk of dairy cows. Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems 26 224229
Nousiainen, J, Schingfield, KJ & Huhtanen, P 2004 Evaluation of milk urea nitrogen as a diagnostic of protein feeding. Journal of Dairy Science 87 386398
NRC 2001 Nutrient Requirements of Dairy Cattle, 7th rev. edn. Washington, DC: National Academy Press
R Core Team, 2014 R: a Language and Environment for Statistical Computing. R Foundation for Statistical computing. Vienna (Austria).
Shingfield, KJ, Bonnet, M & Scollan, ND 2013 Recent developments in altering the fatty acid composition of ruminant-derived foods. Animal 7 132162
Simopoulos, AP 2002 The importance of the ratio of omega-6/omega-3 essential fatty acids. Biomedicine and Pharmacotherapy 56 365379
Slots, T, Butler, G, Leifert, C, Kristensen, T, Skibsted, LH & Nielsen, JH 2009 Potentials to differentiate milk composition by different feeding strategies. Journal of Dairy Science 92 20572066
Średnicka-Tober, D, Barański, M, Seal, CJ, Sanderson, R, Benbrook, C, Steinshamn, H, Gromadzka-Ostrowska, J, Rembiałkowska, E, Skwarło-Sońta, K, Eyre, M, Cozzi, G, Larsen, MK, Jordon, T, Niggli, U, Sakowski, T, Calder, PC, Burdge, GC, Sotiraki, S, Stefanakis, A, Stergiadis, S, Yolcu, H, Chatzidimitriou, E, Butler, G, Stewart, G & Leifert, C 2016 Higher PUFA and n-3 PUFA, conjugated linoleic acid, α-tocopherol and iron, but lower iodine and selenium concentrations in organic milk: a systematic literature review and meta- and redundancy analyses. British Journal of Nutrition 115 10431060
Sutton, JD 1989 Altering milk-composition by feeding. Journal of Dairy Science 72 28012814
Troegeler-Meynadier, A, Bret-Bennis, L & Enjalbert, F 2006 Rates and efficiencies of reactions of ruminal biohydrogenation of linoleic acid according to pH and polyunsaturated fatty acids concentrations. Reproduction Nutrition Development 46 713724
Valenti, B, Martin, B, Andueza, D, Leroux, C, Labonne, C, Lahalle, F, Larroque, H, Brunschwig, P, Lecomte, C, Brochard, M & Ferlay, A 2013 Infrared spectroscopic methods for the discrimination of cows’ milk according to the feeding system, cow breed and altitude of the dairy farm. International Dairy Journal 32 2632
Van Dijk, H, Schukking, S & Van der Berg, R 2015 Fifty years of forage supply on dairy farms in the Netherlands. Grassland Science in Europe 20 1220
Vlaeminck, B, Fievez, V, Cabrita, ARJ, Fonseca, AJM & Dewhurst, RJ 2006 Factors affecting odd-and branched-chain fatty acids in milk: a review. Animal Feed Science and Technology 131 389417
Walker, GP, Dunshea, FR & Doyle, PT 2004 Effects of nutrition and management on the production and composition of milk fat and protein: a review. Australian Journal of Agricultural Research 55 10091028
Westreicher-Kristen, E, Kaiser, R, Steingass, H & Rodehutscord, M 2014 Effect of feeding dried distillers’ grains with solubles on milk yield and milk composition of cows in mid-lactation and digestibility in sheep. Journal of Animal Physiology and Animal Nutrition 98 347356
Wood, JD, Richardson, RI, Nute, GR, Fisher, AV, Campo, MM, Kasapidou, E, Sheard, PR & Enser, M 2003 Effects of fatty acids on meat quality: a review. Meat Science 66 2132



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