Short communication: milk fat composition of 4 cattle breeds in the Netherlands

Maurice-Van Eijndhoven, M.H.; Hiemstra, S.J.; Calus, M.P.L.


Milk fatty acid (FA) composition was compared among 4 cattle breeds in the Netherlands: Dutch Friesian (DF; 47 animals/3 farms), Meuse-Rhine-Yssel (MRY; 52/3), Groningen White Headed (GWH; 45/3), and Jersey (JER; 46/3). Each cow was sampled once between December 2008 and March 2009 during the indoor housing season, and samples were analyzed using gas chromatography. Significant breed differences were found for all traits including fat and protein contents, 13 major individual FA, 9 groups of FA, and 5 indices. The saturated fatty acid proportion, which is supposed to be unfavorable for human health, was smaller for GWH (68.9%) compared with DF (74.1%), MRY (72.3%), and JER (74.3%) breeds. The proportion of conjugated linoleic acid and the unsaturation index, which are associated positively with human health, were both highest for GWH. Differences in milk fat composition can be used in strategies to breed for milk with a FA profile more favorable for human health. Our results support the relevance of safeguarding the local Dutch breeds.