Pazzola, Michele and Dettori, Maria Luisa and Cipolat-Gotet, Claudio and Cecchinato, Alessio and Bittante, Giovanni and Vacca, Giuseppe Massimo (2014) Phenotypic factors affecting coagulation properties of milk from Sarda ewes. Journal of Dairy Science, Vol. 97 (11), p. 7247-7258. ISSN 0022-0302. Article.
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In this study, milk-coagulation properties (MCP) were characterized in the Sarda sheep breed. Milk composition and MCP [rennet-coagulation time (RCT), curd-firming time [time to reach a curd firmness of 20 mm (k20)], and curd firmness (a30), (a45), and (a60)] were obtained extending the lactodynamographic analysis from 30 to 60 min from a population of 1,121 ewes from 23 different farms. Managerial characteristics of farms and parity, individual daily milk yields and stage of lactation of ewes were recorded. Data were analyzed using a mixed-model procedure with fixed effects of days in milk, parity, daily milk yield, and flock size and the random effect of the flock/test day nested within flock size. Sampled farms were classified as small (<300 ewes) and medium (300 to 600 ewes), and these were kept by family operations, or as large (>600 ewes), often operated through hired workers. Daily milk yield was, on average, 1.58 ± 0.79 L/d and variability for this trait was very high. The average content of fat, protein, and casein was respectively 6.41, 5.39, and 4.20%. The class of flock size had a significant effect only on curd firmness, whereas days in milk affected RCT and k20. The flock test day, parity, and daily milk yield were important sources of variation for all MCP. The mean value of RCT (8.6 min) and the low occurrence of noncoagulating samples (0.44%) confirmed the excellent coagulation ability of sheep milk compared with cattle milk. A more rapid coagulation was observed in mid-lactating, primiparous, and high-yielding ewes. The k20 was usually reached in less than 2 min after gelation, with the most favorable values at mid lactation. The mean value of curd firmness 30 min after rennet addition (a30) was, on average, 50 mm and decreased to 46 and 42 mm respectively after 45 (a45) and 60 min (a60). The decreasing value of curd-firmness traits was likely to be caused by curd syneresis and whey expulsion. The correlation between RCT and a30 was much lower than in dairy cows and about null for a45 and a60. This means that curd firmness in dairy ewes is almost independent of gelation time and this can provide specific information for this species. In conclusion, this study showed that milk from Sarda sheep is characterized by an earlier gelation, a faster increase in curd firmness with time, and greater curd firmness after 30 min compared with dairy cows. Furthermore, correlations between MCP in sheep are much lower than in bovines and some of the assumptions and interpretations related to cows cannot be applied to sheep.
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