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Seasonal variation in the composition and processing characteristics of herd milk with varying proportions of milk from spring-calving and autumn-calving cows

  • Yingchen Lin (a1), James A. O'Mahony (a2), Alan L. Kelly (a2) and Timothy P. Guinee (a1)

The study investigated the seasonal changes in the compositional, physicochemical and processing characteristics of milk from a mixed-herd of spring- and autumn-calving cows during the year 2014–2015. The volume proportion of autumn-calving milk (% of total milk) varied with season, from ~10–20 in Spring (March–May), 5–13 in Summer (June–August), 20–40 in Autumn (September–November) and 50–100 in Winter (December–February). While all characteristics varied somewhat from month to month, variation was inconsistent, showing no significant trend with progression of time (year). Consequently, season did not significantly affect many parameters including concentrations of total protein, casein, whey protein, NPN, total calcium, pH, rennet gelation properties or heat stability characteristics. However, season had a significant effect on the concentrations of total P and serum P, levels of αs1- and β-caseins as proportions of total casein, casein micelle size, zeta potential and ethanol stability. The absence of a significant effect of season for most compositional parameters, rennet gelation and heat-stability characteristics suggest that milk from a mixed-herd of spring- and autumn-calving cows is suitable for the manufacture of cheese and milk powder on a year-round basis, when the volume proportion of autumn milk, as a % of total, is similar to that of the current study.

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Journal of Dairy Research
  • ISSN: 0022-0299
  • EISSN: 1469-7629
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