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Mammary gland and milk fatty acid composition of two dairy goat breeds under feed-restriction

  • Mariana Palma (a1), Susana P. Alves (a2), Lorenzo E. Hernández-Castellano (a3) (a4), Juan Capote (a5), Noemí Castro (a4), Anastasio Argüello (a4), Manolis Matzapetakis (a1), Rui J. B. Bessa (a2) and André M. de Almeida (a6)...


Goat dairy products are an important source of animal protein in the tropics. During the dry season, pasture scarcity leads animals to lose up to 40% of their body weight, a condition known as Seasonal Weight Loss (SWL) that is one of the major constraints in ruminant production. Breeds with high tolerance to SWL are relevant to understand the physiological responses to pasture scarcity so they could be used in programs for animal breeding. In the Canary Islands there are two dairy goat breeds with different levels of tolerance to SWL: the Palmera, susceptible to SWL; and the Majorera, tolerant to SWL. Fat is one of the milk components most affected by environmental and physiological conditions. This study hypothesises that feed-restriction affects Majorera and Palmera breeds differently, leading to different fatty acid profiles in the mammary gland and milk. An interaction between breed and feed-restriction was observed in the mammary gland. Feed-restriction was associated with an increase in oleic acid and a decrease in palmitic acid percentage in the Palmera breed whereas no differences were observed in the Majorera breed. Palmitic and oleic acids together constituted around 60% of the total fatty acids identified, which suggests that Palmera breed is more susceptible to SWL. In milk, feed-restriction affected both breeds similarly. Regarding the interaction of the breed with the treatment, we also observed similar responses in both breeds, but this influence affects only around 2% of the total fatty acids. In general, Majorera breed is more tolerant to feed-restriction.


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*For correspondence; e-mail:


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Present address: Department of Life Sciences, CFE – Center for Functional Ecology, University of Coimbra, Coimbra, Portugal.

Present address: Instituto Superior de Agronomia, Universidade de Lisboa, Lisboa, Portugal.



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