Melting curves were determined by differential scanning calorimetry on 17 samples of milk fat obtained at approximately fortnightly intervals through one dairying season. Liquid-fat content at a number of temperatures was calculated from the melting curves.
Correlation between percentage liquid fat at 12 and at 22 °C and weight percentage of short-chain fatty acids (C4–C8) was low (r = 0·45 and 0·58 respectively) as was that with cis-unsaturated acids (r = 0·39 and 0·29). Correlation with the sum of short-chain and cis-unsaturated acids was higher (r = 0·71 and 0·68). With a multiple regression model including short-chain and cis-unsaturated acids the values of the multiple correlation coefficient (R) were 0·75 and 0·78.
The softening point showed a high correlation (r = 0·79) with weight percentage of long-chain saturated acids and also with the temperature at which 94 % of the fat was liquid (r = 0·75).
Possible explanations of these findings are discussed.