Comparison of the nutritional regulation of milk fat secretion and composition in cows and goats.

P. G. Toral, Yves Chilliard, Jacques Rouel, leskinen Heidi, Kevin Shingfield, Laurence Bernard

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A study with two ruminant species (goats and cows) with inherent differences in lipid metabolism was performed to test the hypothesis that milk fat depression (MFD) due to marine lipid supplements or diets containing high amounts of starch and plant oil is caused by different mechanisms and that each ruminant species responds differently. Cows and goats were allocated to one of 3 groups (4 cows and 5 goats per group) and fed diets containing no additional oil (control) or supplemented with fish oil (FO) or sunflower oil and wheat starch (SOS) according to a 3 × 3 Latin square design with 26 d experimental periods. In cows, milk fat content was lowered by FO and SOS (‒31%), whereas only FO decreased milk fat content in goats (‒21%) compared with the control. Furthermore, FO and SOS decreased milk fat yield in cows, but not in goats. In both species, FO and SOS decreased the secretion of <C16 and C16 fatty acids (FA), and FO lowered >C16 FA output. However, SOS increased milk secretion of >C16 FA in goats. Compared with the control, SOS resulted in similar increases in milk trans-10,cis-12 conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) in both species, but caused a 2-fold larger increase in trans-10 18:1 concentration in cows than for goats. Relative to the control, responses to FO in both species were characterized by a marked decrease in milk concentration of 18:0 (‒74%) and cis-9 18:1 (‒62%), together with a ca. 5-fold increase in total trans 18:1, but the proportionate changes in trans-10 18:1 were lower for goats. Direct comparison of animal performance and milk FA responses to FO and SOS treatments demonstrated inter-species differences in mammary lipogenesis, suggesting a lower sensitivity to the inhibitory effects of trans-10,cis-12 CLA in goats and that ruminal biohydrogenation pathways are more stable and less prone to diet-induced shifts towards the formation of trans-10 containing intermediates in goats compared with cows. Even though a direct cause and effect could not be established, results suggest that regulation of milk fat synthesis during FO-induced MFD may be related to a shortage of 18:0 for endogenous mammary cis-9 18:1 synthesis, increase in the incorporation of trans FA in milk triacylglycerols, and limitations in the synthesis of FA de novo to maintain milk fat melting point. However, the possible contribution of biohydrogenation intermediates with putative anti-lipogenic effects in the mammary gland, including trans-9,cis-11 CLA, trans-10 18:1 or cis-11 18:1 to FO-induced MFD cannot be excluded.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7277-7297
JournalJournal of Dairy Science
Early online date29 Jul 2015
Publication statusPublished - 15 Sept 2015


  • cow
  • goat
  • milk fatty acid
  • milk fat depression


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