Differences in milk fat composition predicted by mid-infrared spectrometry among dairy cattle breeds in the Netherlands

Maurice - Van Eijndhoven, M.H.T.; Bovenhuis, H.; Soyeurt, H.; Calus, M.P.L.


The aim of this study was to estimate breed differences in milk fatty acid (FA) profile among 5 dairy cattle breeds present in the Netherlands: Holstein-Friesian (HF), Meuse-Rhine-Yssel (MRY), Dutch Friesian (DF), Groningen White Headed (GWH), and Jersey (JER). For this purpose, total fat percentage and detailed FA contents in milk (14 individual FA and 14 groups of FA) predicted from mid-infrared spectra were used. Mid-infrared spectrometry profiles were collected during regular milk recording from a range of herds with different combinations of breeds, including both purebred and crossbred cows. The data set used for the analyses contained 41,404 records from a total of 24,445 cows. In total 7,626 cows were crossbreds belonging to the breeds HF, MRY, DF, GWH, and JER; 1,769 purebreds (=87.5%) belonging to the breeds MRY, DF, GWH, and JER; and the other 15,050 cows were HF. Breed effects were estimated using a single-trait animal model. The content in milk of short-chain FA C4:0, C6:0, C8:0, C10:0, C12:0, C14:0, and C16:0 was higher for JER and the content in milk of C16:0 was lower for GWH compared with the other breeds; when adjusting for breed differences in fat percentage, however, not all breed differences were significant. Breed differences were also found for cis-9 C14:1, cis-9 C16:1, C18:0, and a number of C18 unsaturated FA. In general, differences in fat composition in milk between HF, MRY, and DF were not significant. Jerseys tended to produce more saturated FA, whereas GWH tended to produce relatively less saturated FA. After adjusting for differences in fat percentage, breed differences in detailed fat composition disappeared or became smaller for several short- and medium-chain FA, whereas for several long-chain unsaturated FA, more significant breed differences were found. This indicates that short- and medium-chain FA are for all breeds more related to total fat percentage than long-chain FA. In conclusion, between breed differences were found in detailed FA composition and content of individual FA. Especially, for FA produced through de novo synthesis (short-chain FA, C12:0, C14:0, and partly C16:0) differences were found for JER and GWH, compared with the breeds HF, MRY, and DF