The main objective of this experiment was to study the γ-glutamyl transferase (GGT) activity in milk during lactation and its relationship with metabolic status of dairy cows, milk yield, milk composition, and cheesemaking properties. The study was performed in a tied stall barn and involved 20 lactations from 12 healthy multiparous Italian Friesian dairy cows. During lactation starting at d 10, milk samples were collected weekly and analyzed for composition, somatic cells count, titratable acidity, and milk coagulation properties. The GGT activity was measured in defatted samples. Blood samples were collected weekly to assess biochemical indicators related to energy, protein, and mineral metabolism, markers of inlammation and some enzyme activities. The lactations of each cow were retrospectively categorized into 2 groups according to their milk GGT activity value through lactation. A median value of GGT activity in the milk of all lactations was calculated (3,045 U/L), and 10 lactations with lower GGT activity were classiied as low while 10 lactations with greater GGT activity were classiied as high. The average value of milk GGT activity during lactation was 3,863 and 3,024 U/L for high and low, respectively. The GGT activity decreased in early lactation and reached minimum values in the second month (3,289 and 2,355 U/L for high and low, respectively). Thereafter GGT activity increased progressively, reaching values in late lactation of 4,511 and 3,540 U/L in high and low, respectively. On average, milk yield was 40.81 and 42.76 kg/d in high and low, respectively, and a negative partial correlation with milk GGT activity was observed. A greater milk protein concentration was observed in high (3.39%) compared with low (3.18%), and a positive partial correlation with milk GGT activity was observed. Greater titratable acidity in high than that in low (3.75 vs. 3.45 degrees Soxhlet-Henkel/50 mL, respectively) was also observed. Plasma glucose was greater in cows of high than in low group, while plasma urea was lower in the high than in the low group. No relationship between plasma GGT and milk GGT activity was observed. Our results show an important effect of lactation stage on milk GGT activity. The individual effect observed from consecutive lactations and the relationship between milk GGT activity and milk protein concentration in healthy cows could open prospects for GGT as a future tool in improving milk protein content.
- Dairy cows