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Milk That Tastes Of Quality

29 October 2010

US - Scientists from the University of Aarhus have investigated how organic cows’ grazing and a gentle treatment of their milk from cow to consumer affects milk quality.

There is a difference between organic milk and ordinary milk – and that difference should be something that the consumer should be able to taste. This is one of the goals of a project carried out by researchers from the Faculty of Agricultural Sciences, Aarhus University, under the auspices of the International Centre for Research in Organic Food Systems (ICROFS).

The organic cows in the study grazed and chewed the cud of different combinations of grass and legumes so that the scientists could investigate the effect of feeding on milk composition and quality. The milk from the fresh air dairy cows was thereafter subjected to very gentle treatment throughout the whole process from cow to consumer.

The overall goal of the project was to create a basis for the production of high quality organic milk and highly processed dairy products with a well-articulated history and a composition that sets it apart from conventionally produced milk. The project has also focused on treating organic milk gently throughout milking and processing.

"The integrity of Danish organic milk production could be improved if the purchase of feedstuffs could be reduced and production could instead be based on home grown feedstuffs," says the leader of the project Mette Krogh Larsen from the Department of Food Science at the Faculty of Agricultural Sciences.

Grass is good

Increased use of home grown feedstuffs should be based on increased grazing and use of grass and legumes in the roughage throughout the year.

"Basing feeding on products that are natural to a given area can contribute to strengthening the principle of subsidiarity. By basing production on gentle treatment and processing you also strengthen the principle of prudence in organic production," says Mette Krogh Larsen.

Based on the results so far, it seems that there are more of the healthy omega-3 fatty acids in milk from cows that graze, especially if the pasture has a high proportion of clover. The effect is, however, very dependent on cow breed. Jersey cows have more difficulty transferring omega-3 fatty acids to the milk than Holstein cows. There are also differences between milk taste dependent on cow breed.

The results also showed that the natural content of vitamin E in milk helps to keep it fresh longer.

The project is supported by funds from FØJØ III.

Read more about the project ”Organic milk of high quality” (ORMILKQUAL).

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