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Effects of Summer Transhumance of Dairy Cows to Alpine Pastures on Body Condition, Milk Yield and Composition, and Cheese Making Efficiency

1
Department of Agronomy, Food, Natural resources, Animals and Environment (DAFNAE), University of Padova, Viale dell’Università 16, 35020 Legnaro (PD), Italy
2
Research and Innovation Centre, Edmund Mach Foundation, San Michele all’Adige, Via E. Mach, 1, 38010 San Michele All’adige (TN), Italy
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Animals 2019, 9(4), 192; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9040192
Received: 15 March 2019 / Revised: 18 April 2019 / Accepted: 22 April 2019 / Published: 24 April 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feeding Cattle for Health Improvement)
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Simple Summary

Summer transhumance of dairy cows is a seasonal pastoral system practiced in many European countries from ancient times. This practice provides additional forage supply for mountain dairy farms and plays a role in the preservation of landscape, biodiversity, and natural habitats and conservation of local traditional dairy products, but it may affect cows’ physiological and nutritional status. This study aimed to investigate the effects of transhumance of Brown Swiss cows to summer pastures on the yield, composition, and coagulation properties of milk, and on cheese yield. For this study, twelve multiparous cows from a mountain lowland permanent farm were divided into two groups of six cows: One group stayed at the permanent farm while the other moved to the alpine pasture (1860 m above sea level). Cows at the alpine pasture had reduced milk yield and body condition, and greater fat and lower protein contents in milk compared to cows at the permanent farm. Conversely, neither milk coagulation properties nor cheese yield were affected by summer transhumance. In conclusion, summer transhumance did not affect the cheese making efficiency of milk compared to permanent farm, but the negative effect on milk yield depressed daily cheese yield, which was 2 kg/d lower in cows moved to Alpine pasture.

Abstract

Summer transhumance to alpine pastures (ALP) is widespread in dairy systems of alpine regions. This study aimed to investigate the effects of transhumance of Brown Swiss cows to ALP on the yield, composition, and coagulation properties of milk (MCP), and on cheese yield (CY). The study involved 12 multiparous cows kept at a mountain lowland permanent farm (PF), which were divided into two equal groups: One remained at the PF, the other was moved to the ALP (1860 m above sea level) from July to September. Every month (June to October), daily milk yield (MY) and body condition score (BCS) were recorded, and individual milk samples (n = 60, 2000 mL each) were collected to assess milk composition, MCP, and CY. Compared with PF, ALP cows had a reduced MY and BCS, which was maintained on return to the PF, greater fat and lower protein contents of milk. Neither MCP nor CY were affected by summer transhumance. In conclusion, summer transhumance did not affect the cheese making efficiency of milk but depressed MY and consequently daily cheese yield, which was nearly 2 kg/d lower for the ALP than the PF cows and was only partially recovered after returning to the PF in autumn. View Full-Text
Keywords: dairy cow; summer transhumance; alpine pasture; milk yield; milk coagulation properties; cheese yield dairy cow; summer transhumance; alpine pasture; milk yield; milk coagulation properties; cheese yield
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Saha, S.; Amalfitano, N.; Sturaro, E.; Schiavon, S.; Tagliapietra, F.; Bittante, G.; Carafa, I.; Franciosi, E.; Gallo, L. Effects of Summer Transhumance of Dairy Cows to Alpine Pastures on Body Condition, Milk Yield and Composition, and Cheese Making Efficiency. Animals 2019, 9, 192.

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