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Animals 2019, 9(3), 111; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9030111

Patterns of Biodynamic Milk Fatty Acid Composition Explained by A Climate-Geographical Approach

1
Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL), Ackerstrasse 113, 5070 Frick, Switzerland
2
KWALIS Qualitätsforschung Fulda GmbH, Fuldaer Str. 21, 36160 Dipperz, Germany
3
Competence Cluster for Nutrition and Cardiovascular Health (nutriCARD) Halle-Jena-Leipzig, 07743 Jena, Germany
4
Department of Nutritional Biochemistry and Physiology, Institute of Nutritional Sciences, Friedrich Schiller University Jena, Dornburger Straße 25, 07743 Jena, Germany
5
Department of Nutritional Physiology, Institute of Nutritional Sciences, Friedrich Schiller University Jena, Dornburger Straße 24, 07743 Jena, Germany
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 18 February 2019 / Revised: 14 March 2019 / Accepted: 19 March 2019 / Published: 22 March 2019
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Simple Summary

Biodynamic (BD) farming is one of the earliest organic labels. BD dairy farmers act according strict regulations on feed, fodder and manure cycling and their farms are known as low-input systems. The milk fatty acid (FA) composition of European BD farm milk was investigated in relation to its region of production. Farms were located in different climate zones. The FA composition was different between summer and winter, and increased levels of unsaturated FA were found in summer milk. Differences in milk FA between the three main regions (Atlantic, Central and Pre-Alpine) were caused by differences in rainfall, farm elevation and the length of the grazing season. The results are along the same line of knowledge how fresh grass, conserved fodder, maize silage and concentrates affect the milk FA profile. An important health marker for milk fat is the omega-6 to omega-3 (n6/n3) ratio, which should preferably be low. Milk fat based on pure grazing had a n6/n3 ratio of 1.00. Average BD shop milk had a lower n6/n3 ratio (1.37) compared to conventional shop milk (1.89). Based on the n6/n3 ratio, a BD dairy cow had a high intake (>82%) of fresh grass and conserved roughage (hay and grass silage).

Abstract

Background: Biodynamic dairy production is based on a land-related animal production without the additional input of N-fertilizers. The concentrate level per cow is low. This affects the yield level of animals and product quality outcomes. Methods: We examined the milk fatty acid (FA) composition of European biodynamic farms in relation to the ecological region of production and the farm’s climate conditions. Climate data were derived from existing maps describing ecological vegetation zones within Europe. Additionally, biodynamic shop milk was compared to conventional shop milk, based on a regional comparison. Results: The largest differences in the FA composition were between biodynamic summer and winter milk. We found increased proportions of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), alpha-linolenic acid (ALA-n3), monounsaturated FA (MUFA), and polyunsaturated FA (PUFA) in the summer milk. A principal component analysis expressed the structure that was present in the biodynamic farm milk samples, based on clusters of a single FA within four components. The components could be correlated with the season of production, the amount of precipitation, the elevation of the farm above sea level, and the length of the grazing season. Biodynamic shop milk in the summer had a lower n6/n3 PUFA ratio compared to the conventional shop milk in all regions of production. Mean values were 1.37 and 1.89, respectively. Conclusions: The differentiation of biodynamic milk FA composition is consistent with the existing knowledge about the effects of fresh grass, fodder, and ratio composition on the milk’s FA composition. Based on the n6/n3 PUFA ratio, the average biodynamic dairy cow had a high intake (>82%) of fresh grass and conserved roughage (hay and grass silage), especially in the summer. View Full-Text
Keywords: biodynamic milk; fatty acids; farm milk; shop milk; region of production; Europe; roughage intake biodynamic milk; fatty acids; farm milk; shop milk; region of production; Europe; roughage intake
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Baars, T.; Wohlers, J.; Rohrer, C.; Lorkowski, S.; Jahreis, G. Patterns of Biodynamic Milk Fatty Acid Composition Explained by A Climate-Geographical Approach. Animals 2019, 9, 111.

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