Genetic analysis of coagulation properties, curd firming modeling, milk yield, composition, and acidity in Sarda dairy sheep
Bittante, G.; Cipolat-Gotet, C.; Pazzola, M.; Dettori, M.L.; Vacca, G.M.; Cecchinato, A.
Journal of Dairy Science 100(1): 385-394
ISSN/ISBN: 1525-3198 PMID: 28341048 DOI: 10.3168/jds.2016-11212
Sheep milk is an important source of food, especially in Mediterranean countries, and is used in large part for cheese production. Milk technological traits are important for the sheep dairy industry, but research is lacking into the genetic variation of such traits. Therefore the aim of this study was to estimate the heritability of traditional milk coagulation properties and curd firmness modeled on time t (CFt) parameters, and their genetic relationships with test-day milk yield, composition (fat, protein, and casein content), and acidity in Sarda dairy sheep. Milk samples from 1,121 Sarda ewes from 23 flocks were analyzed for 5 traditional coagulation properties by lactodynamographic tests conducted for up to 60min: rennet coagulation time (min), curd-firming time (k20, min), and 3measures of curd firmness (a30, a45, and a60, mm). The 240 curd firmness observations (1 every 15 s) from each milk sample were recorded, and 4 parameters for each individual sample equation were estimated: rennet coagulation time estimated from the equation (RCTeq), the asymptotic potential curd firmness (CFP), the curd firming instant rate constant (kCF), and the syneresis instant rate constant (kSR). Two other derived traits were also calculated (CFmax, the maximum curd firmness value; and tmax, the attainment time). Multivariate analyses using Bayesian methodology were performed to estimate the genetic relationships of milk coagulation properties and CFt with the other traits; statistical inference was based on the marginal posterior distributions of the parameters of concern. The marginal posterior distribution of heritability estimates of milk yield (0.16±0.07) and composition (0.21±0.11 to 0.28±0.10) of Sarda ewes was similar to those often obtained for bovine species. The heritability of rennet coagulation time as a single point trait was also similar to that frequently obtained for cow milk (0.19±0.09), whereas the same trait calculated as an individual equation parameter exhibited larger genetic variation and a higher heritability estimate (0.32±0.11). The other curd firming and syneresis traits, whether as traditional single point observations or as individual equation parameters and derived traits, were characterized by heritability estimates lower than for coagulation time and for the corresponding bovine milk traits (0.06 to 0.14). Phenotypic and additive genetic correlations among the 11 technological traits contribute to describing the interdependencies and meanings of different traits. The additive genetic relationships of these technological traits with the single test-day milk yield and composition were variable and showed milk yield to have unfavorable effects on all measures of curd firmness (a30, a45, a60, CFP, and CFmax) and tmax, but favorable effects on both instant rate constants (kCF and kSR). Milk fat content had a positive effect on curd firmness traits, especially on those obtained from CFt equations, whereas the negative effects on both coagulation time traits were attributed to the milk protein and casein contents. Finally, in view of the estimated heritabilities and additive genetic correlations, enhancement of technological traits of sheep milk through selective breeding could be feasible in this population.