Fat source and dietary forage-to-concentrate ratio influences milk fatty-acid composition in lactating cows

M. Vazirigohar, M. Dehghan-Banadaky, K. Rezayazdi, Krisztina Krizsan, A. Nejati-Javaremi, Kevin Shingfield

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On the basis of the potential benefits to human health there is an increased interest in producing milk containing lower-saturated fatty acid (SFA) and higher unsaturated fatty acid (FA) concentrations, including cis-9 18:1 and cis-9, trans-11-conjugated linoleic acid (CLA). Twenty-four multiparous Holstein cows were used in two experiments according to a completely randomized block design, with 21-day periods to examine the effects of incremental replacement of prilled palm fat (PALM) with sunflower oil (SFO) in high-concentrate diets containing 30 g/kg dry matter (DM) of supplemental fat (Experiment 1) or increases in the forage-to-concentrate (F : C) ratio from 39 : 61 to 48 : 52 of diets containing 30 g/kg DM of SFO (Experiment 2) on milk production, digestibility and milk FA composition. Replacing PALM with SFO had no effect on DM intake, but tended to increase organic matter digestibility, yields of milk, protein and lactose, and decreased linearly milk fat content. Substituting SFO for PALM decreased linearly milk fat 8:0 to 16:0 and cis-9 16:1, and increased linearly 18:0, cis-9 18:1, trans-18:1 (Δ4 to 16), 18:2 and CLA concentrations. Increases in the F : C ratio of diets containing SFO had no effect on intake, yields of milk, milk protein or milk lactose, lowered milk protein content in a quadratic manner, and increased linearly NDF digestion and milk fat secretion. Replacing concentrates with forages in diets containing SFO increased milk fat 4:0 to 10:0 concentrations in a linear or quadratic manner, decreased linearly cis-9 16:1, trans-6 to -10 18:1, 18:2n-6, trans-7, cis-9 CLA, trans-9, cis-11 CLA and trans-10, cis-12 CLA, without altering milk fat 14:0 to 16:0, trans-11 18:1, cis-9, trans-11 CLA or 18:3n-3 concentrations. In conclusion, replacing prilled palm fat on with SFO in high-concentrate diets had no adverse effects on intake or milk production, other than decreasing milk fat content, but lowered milk fat medium-chain SFA and increased trans FA and polyunsaturated FA concentrations. Increases in the proportion of forage in diets containing SFO increased milk fat synthesis, elevated short-chain SFA and lowered trans FA concentrations, without altering milk polyunsaturated FA content. Changes in fat yield on high-concentrate diets containing SFO varied between experiments and individual animals, with decreases in milk fat secretion being associated with increases in milk fat trans-10 18:1, trans-10, cis-12 CLA and trans-9, cis-11 CLA concentrations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)163-174
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 31 Jan 2014


  • conjugated linoleic acid, dairy cow, milk fat, saturated fatty acid, trans fatty acid


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