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Derivation of multivariate indices of milk composition, coagulation properties, and individual cheese yield in dairy sheep

Manca, M.G.; Serdino, J.; Gaspa, G.; Urgeghe, P.; Ibba, I.; Contu, M.; Fresi, P.; Macciotta, N.P.P.

Journal of Dairy Science 99(6): 4547-4557

2016


ISSN/ISBN: 1525-3198
PMID: 27060831
DOI: 10.3168/jds.2015-10589
Accession: 057577920

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Milk composition and its technological properties are traits of interest for the dairy sheep industry because almost all milk produced is processed into cheese. However, several variables define milk technological properties and a complex correlation pattern exists among them. In the present work, we measured milk composition, coagulation properties, and individual cheese yields in a sample of 991 Sarda breed ewes in 47 flocks. The work aimed to study the correlation pattern among measured variables and to obtain new synthetic indicators of milk composition and cheese-making properties. Multivariate factor analysis was carried out on individual measures of milk coagulation parameters; cheese yield; fat, protein, and lactose percentages; somatic cell score; casein percentage; NaCl content; pH; and freezing point. Four factors that were able to explain about 76% of the original variance were extracted. They were clearly interpretable: the first was associated with composition and cheese yield, the second with udder health status, the third with coagulation, and the fourth with curd characteristics. Factor scores were then analyzed by using a mixed linear model that included the fixed effect of parity, lambing month, and lactation stage, and the random effect of flock-test date. The patterns of factor scores along lactation stages were coherent with their technical meaning. A relevant effect of flock-test date was detected, especially on the 2 factors related to milk coagulation properties. Results of the present study suggest the existence of a simpler latent structure that regulates relationships between variables defining milk composition and coagulation properties in sheep. Heritability estimates for the 4 extracted factors were from low to moderate, suggesting potential use of these new variables as breeding goals.