News last update:6 Aug 2012

Milk flavour starts in the cow pasture

Danish scientists have investigated if you can control milk flavour by controlling the composition of the cow pasture.

Scientists from the Faculty of Agricultural Sciences (DJF) at University of Aarhus have worked together with scientists from the Faculty of Life Sciences at University of Copenhagen (KU-LIFE ) in order to investigate the effects of different pasture mixtures on the taste of organic milk. One of the goals was to be able to offer an organic product that differentiates itself from conventionally produced milk.

Different pasture mixtures
The scientists have studied the effect of four different pasture mixtures on milk composition and taste as well as milk yield. In the grazing studies some pasture mixtures included relatively high levels of various legumes (white clover, red clover and alfalfa) and chicory. The study was divided into three periods of 14 days in May, June and August.

Different tastes is possible
Neither milk protein composition, milk fat composition nor milk yield were significantly affected, but there were taste differences in milk from different pasture mixtures and different periods. "Although we noticed that it is possible to produce milk with different tastes, it remains difficult to predict the results. You can measure aromatic compounds in the crops but that is not the same as being able to predict what goes into the milk. That is because the cow is a ruminant", says senior scientist Troels Kristensen from the Department of Agroecology and Environment at the Faculty of Agricultural Sciences, University of Aarhus.

Follow up
Observations of pasture development and cow grazing behaviour were also included in the study. It was seen that the cows were somewhat picky eaters, which resulted in selective and heterogenous grazing. The next step is to try and produce a stable product that is predictable and does not vary according to season. The scientists will also test if the method can be used under practical conditions and are therefore carrying out studies on six different practical organic farms with varying proportions of white clover.

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Related website:
University of Aarhus

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