Although lactoferrin (Lf) is a valued milk protein, little information is available on factors that affect its concentration in milk. Milk samples were collected during late lactation to determine if diet or cow genotype affected the concentration and yield of Lf in bovine milk. Holstein-Friesian (HF) cows (n=52) of either overseas (OS) or New Zealand (NZ) ancestry were fed either an all-pasture diet or a total mixed ration (TMR). Milk samples were collected from each cow during an AM milking in early March and late April. NZHF had a higher (P<0.05) Lf concentration than OSHF even though they produced less (P<0.05) milk. Genotype did not affect Lf yield, somatic cell count or the proportion of bacteriologically negative quarters. The Lf concentration in the milk of cows fed TMR was higher (P<0.05) than cows grazing pasture in April but not in March. Cows fed TMR also produced more (P<0.05) milk and a greater (P<0.001) yield of Lf than cows grazing pasture. Diet did not affect SCC, however only cows fed TMR had any bacteriologically positive quarters. A positive within-cow correlation (P<0.001) was found between Lf and SCC. The effect of diet on the concentration of Lf in milk requires further investigation. The genotype results suggest that NZHF have higher concentrations of Lf in milk than OSHF. Naturally high concentrations allow improved extraction efficiencies of Lf during processing.
Proceedings of the New Zealand Society of Animal Production, Volume 63, Queenstown, 87-90, 2003
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