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Evidence That Forage-Fed Cows Can Enhance Milk Quality

School of Natural and Environmental Sciences, Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 7RU, UK
French Agency for Food Environmental and Occupational Health and Safety, (ANSES), Regulated Products Assessment Department, Residues and Food Safety Unit, 94701 Maisons-Alfort Cedex, France
Centre for Organics Research, Southern Cross University, Melbourne NSW 2480, Australia
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Sustainability 2020, 12(9), 3688;
Received: 6 April 2020 / Revised: 28 April 2020 / Accepted: 30 April 2020 / Published: 2 May 2020
Researching the distinguishing factors of nutritional milk quality is key to sustainable production and addresses increasing media and scientific scrutiny regarding human health effects and ecological impacts of dairy products. Modern Western diets have high omega-6 relative to omega-3 fatty acid (FA) consumption. This ratio in milk can be manipulated by management practices; increasing forage in dairy diets raises omega-3 in milk. Whilst studies identify higher concentrations of nutritionally beneficial FAs in organic dairy, milk from 100% forage-fed cows in the UK has not been investigated. This study explores differences in FA composition between supermarket conventional and organic and Pasture for Life Association (PFLA) milk, collected in April, July and October, 2017. PFLA milk had higher concentrations of conjugated linoleic acid (+94%) and omega-3 (+92%) than conventional milk. Additionally, concentrations of palmitic acid (+11%), omega-6 (+69%) and the ratio of omega-6/omega-3 (+201%) were higher in conventional than PFLA milk. PFLA milk had higher concentrations of alpha-linolenic acid (+39%), conjugated linoleic acid (+30%) and omega-3 (+21%) and lower concentrations of omega-6 (−36%) and a lower ratio of omega-6/omega-3 (−44%) than organic milk. This supports previous studies and demonstrates the scope to improve milk FA profiles further for potential health benefits through pasture-based management. View Full-Text
Keywords: dairy; fatty acids; organic; pasture; forage; milk quality dairy; fatty acids; organic; pasture; forage; milk quality
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MDPI and ACS Style

Davis, H.; Chatzidimitriou, E.; Leifert, C.; Butler, G. Evidence That Forage-Fed Cows Can Enhance Milk Quality. Sustainability 2020, 12, 3688.

AMA Style

Davis H, Chatzidimitriou E, Leifert C, Butler G. Evidence That Forage-Fed Cows Can Enhance Milk Quality. Sustainability. 2020; 12(9):3688.

Chicago/Turabian Style

Davis, Hannah, Eleni Chatzidimitriou, Carlo Leifert, and Gillian Butler. 2020. "Evidence That Forage-Fed Cows Can Enhance Milk Quality" Sustainability 12, no. 9: 3688.

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