Skip to main content Accessibility help

Interannual and geographical reproducibility of the nutritional quality of milk fat from commercial grazing flocks

  • Mailo Virto (a1), Marian Bustamante (a1), Juan Carlos Ruiz de Gordoa (a1), Gustavo Amores (a1), Paula N. Fernández-Caballero (a1), Nerea Mandaluniz (a2), Josune Arranz (a2), Ana I. Nájera (a3), Marta Albisu (a3), Francisco J. Pérez-Elortondo (a3), Luis J. R. Barron (a3) and Mertxe de Renobales (a1)...


The objective of the present work was to study the differences in the fatty acid (FA) composition of raw sheep milk fat under commercial milk production conditions throughout lactation, in two consecutive years. Particular attention was placed on the C18:2cis-9,trans-11 isomer, C18:1trans-11 acid, and unsaturated FA as the feeding regimen of 10 commercial flocks of latxa dairy sheep changed from indoor feeding to part-time grazing conditions (from early spring) as traditionally practiced in the Basque Country (Northern Spain). Farms located at an altitude of between 600 and 700 m, in two different geographical areas with different rainfall were selected. Milk samples were collected monthly from late January (indoor feeding) until mid-, or end of, June (outdoor feeding), during two consecutive years. In spite of some interannual variability (most likely due to large differences in rainfall), the evolution of individual FA throughout lactation was comparable between years, indicating that it was reproducible under commercial milk production conditions. The average concentrations of C18:2cis-9,trans-11 isomer and C18:1trans-11 acid in milk from the commercial flocks increased about 200% during the transition period (end of March or early April until May), from indoor feeding (late January or early February until the end of March) to the outdoor period (early May to mid-June), remaining constant during the outdoor period (27·53 ± 9·32 μmol/g fat and 71·58 ± 20·53 μmol/g fat, respectively). Non-atherogenic FA comprised approximately 50% of all saturated FA at any time during lactation, whereas the milk atherogenicity index decreased significantly during the outdoor period. The Trolox-equivalent antioxidant capacity of the water-soluble milk fraction did not appear to be influenced by feeding management. The FA composition of cheeses made during the second year with milk from the indoor or outdoor periods reflected those of the corresponding milks. A principal components analysis clearly showed that differences in the milk FA composition were primarily due to outdoor grazing, with very little contribution from the geographical zone or the year.


Corresponding author

*For correspondence; e-mail:


Hide All
Abilleira, E, Collomb, M, Schlichtherle-Cerny, H, Virto, M, De Renobales, M & Barron, LJR 2009 Winter/Spring changes in fatty acid composition of farmhouse Idiazabal cheese due to different flock management systems. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 57 47464753
Atti, N, Rouissi, H & Othmane, MH 2006 Milk production, milk fatty acid composition and conjugated linolieic acid (CLA) content in dairy ewes raised on feedlot or grazing pasture. Livestock Science 104 121127
Bianchi, L, Nunzi, C, Pauselli, M, Moscati, L, Cestola, E, Duranti, E & Casoli, C 2011 Evaluating the antioxidante capacity in different fractions of sheep milk. Milchwissenschaft 66 410413
Biondi, L, Valvo, MA, Di Gloria, M, Tenghi, ES, Galofaro, V & Priolo, A 2008 Changes in ewe milk fatty acids following turning out to pasture. Small Ruminant Research 75 1723
Cabiddu, A, Decandia, M, Addis, M, Piredda, G, Pirisi, A & Molle, G 2005 Managing Mediterranean pastures in order to enhance the level of beneficial fatty acids in sheep milk. Small Ruminant Research 59 169180
Chilliard, Y, Ferlay, A, Rouel, J & Lamberet, G 2003 A review of nutritional and physiological factors affecting goat milk lipid synthesis and lipolysis. Journal of Dairy Science 86 17511770
Christie, WW 1982 A simple procedure for rapid transmethylation of glycerolipids and cholesteryl esters. Journal of Lipid Research 23 10721075
Clausen, MR, Skibsted, LH & Stagsted, J 2009 Characterization of major radical scavenger species in bovine milk through size exclusion chromatography and functional assays. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 57 29122919
Couvreur, S, Hurtaud, C, Lopez, C, Delaby, L & Peyraud, JL 2006 The linear relationship between the proportion of fresh grass in the cow diet, milk fatty acid composition, and butter properties. Journal of Dairy Science 89 19561969
De la Fuente, LF, Barbosa, E, Carriedo, JA, Gonzalo, C, Arenas, RM, Fresno, JM & San Primitivo, F 2009 Factors influencing variation in fatty acid content in ovine milk. Journal of Dairy Science 92 37913799
De Renobales, M, Amores, G, Arranz, J, Virto, M, Barron, LJR, Bustamante, MA, Ruiz de Gordoa, JC, Nájera, AI, Valdivielso, I, Abilleira, E, Beltrán de Heredia, I, Pérez-Elortondo, FJ, Ruiz, R, Albisu, M & Mandaluniz, N 2012 Part-time grazing improves sheep milk production and its nutritional characteristics. Food Chemistry 130 9096
Elwood, PC, Givens, DI, Beswick, AD, Fehily, AM, Pickering, JE & Gallcher, J 2008 The survival advantage of milk and dairy consumption: an overview of evidence from cohort studies of vascular diseases, diabetes and cancer. Journal of the American College of Nutrition 27 723S734S
Ferlay, A, Agabriel, C, Sibra, C, Journal, C, Martin, B & Chilliard, Y 2008 Tanker milk variability in fatty acids according to farm feeding and husbandry practices in a French semimountain area. Dairy Science and Technology 88 193215
Folch, J, Lees, M & Stanley, GHS 1957 A simple method for the isolation and purification of total lipids from animal tissues. Journal of Biological Chemistry 226 497509
Gómez-Cortés, P, Frutos, P, Mantecón, AR, Juárez, M, de la Fuente, MA & Hervás, G 2009 Effect of supplementation of grazing dairy ewes with a cereal concentrate on animal performance and milk fatty acid profile. Journal of Dairy Science 92 39643972
Hodgson, J, Forbes, TDA, Armstrong, RH, Beattie, MM & Hunter, EA 1991 Comparative studies of the ingestive behaviour and herbage intake of sheep and cattle grazing on indigenous hill plant communities. Journal of Applied Ecology 28 205227
Jenkins, TC & McGuire, MA 2006 Major advances in nutrition: impact on milk composition. Journal of Dairy Science 89 13021310
Kelsey, JA, Corl, BA, Collier, RJ & Bauman, DM 2003 The effect of breed, parity, and stage of lactation on conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) in milk fat from dairy cows. Journal of Dairy Science 86 25883893
Licitra, G 2011 World wide traditional cheeses: banned for business? Dairy Science and Technology 90 357374
Lock, AL & Garnsworthy, PC 2003 Seasonal variation in milk conjugated linoleic acid and Δ9-desaturase activity in dairy cows. Livestock Production Science 79 4759
Luna, P, Fontecha, J, Juárez, M & de la Fuente, MA 2005 Conjugated linoleic acid in ewe milk fat. Journal of Dairy Research 72 415424
Martini, M, Liponi, GB & Salari, F 2010 Effect of forage:concentrate ratio on the quality of ewe's milk, especially on milk fat globules characteristics and fatty acids composition. Journal of Dairy Research 77 239244
Mele, M, Contarini, G, Cercari, L, Serra, A, Buccioni, A, Povolo, M, Conte, G, Funaro, A, Banni, S, Lercker, G & Secchiari, P 2011 Enrichment of Pecorino cheese with conjugated linoleic acid by feeding dairy ewes with extruded linseed: effect on fatty acid and triglycerides composition and on oxidative stability. International Dairy Journal 21 365372
Method PE/ALVO/02 of Laboratorio Instituto Lactológico de Lekunberri (Navarra), acredited by ENAC according to criteria described in the Norm UNE-EN ISO/IEC 17025:2005.
Oregui, LM & Falagan-Prieto, A 2006 Spécificités et diversité des systèmes de production o, vine et caprine dans le Bassin Méditerranéen (Specificity and diversity of sheep and goat production systems in Mediterranean Basin). Options Méditerranéenes A 70 7786
Ostrovský, I, Pavlíková, E, Blaško, J, Górová, R, Kubinec, R, Margetín, M & Soják, L 2009 Variation in fatty acid composition of ewes’ milk during continuous transition from dry winter to natural pasture diet. International Dairy Journal 19 545549
Parodi, PW 2003 Anti-cancer agents in milkfat. Australian Journal of Dairy Technology 58 114118
Parodi, PW 2009 Has the association between saturated fatty acids, serum cholesterol and coronary heart disease been over emphasized? International Dairy Journal 19 345361
Sanz Sampelayo, MR, Chilliard, Y, Schmidely, Ph & Boza, J 2007 Influence of type of diet on the fat constituents of goat and sheep milk. Small Ruminant Research 68 4263
Toral, PG, Frutos, P, Hervás, G, Gómez-Cortés, P, Juárez, M & de la Fuente, MA 2010 Changes in milk fatty acid profile and animal performance in response to fish oil supplementation, alone or in combination with sunflower oil, in dairy ewes. Journal of Dairy Science 93 16041615
Tsiplakou, E, Mountzouris, KC & Zervas, G 2006 Concentration of conjugated linoleic acid in grazing sheep and goat milk fat. Livestock Science 103 7484
Tsiplakou, E, Kotrotsios, V, Hadjigeorgiou, I & Zervas, G 2010 Differences in sheep and goats milk fatty acid profile between conventional and organic farming systems. Journal of Dairy Research 77 343349
Ulbricht, TLV & Southgate, DAT 1991 Coronary heart disease: seven dietary factors. Lancet 338 985992
Zulueta, A, Maurizi, A, Frigola, A, Esteve, MJ, Coli, R & Burini, G 2009 Antioxidant capacity of cow milk, whey and deproteinized milk. International Dairy Journal 19 380385. And references cited in this paper


Interannual and geographical reproducibility of the nutritional quality of milk fat from commercial grazing flocks

  • Mailo Virto (a1), Marian Bustamante (a1), Juan Carlos Ruiz de Gordoa (a1), Gustavo Amores (a1), Paula N. Fernández-Caballero (a1), Nerea Mandaluniz (a2), Josune Arranz (a2), Ana I. Nájera (a3), Marta Albisu (a3), Francisco J. Pérez-Elortondo (a3), Luis J. R. Barron (a3) and Mertxe de Renobales (a1)...


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed