Milk coagulation is based on a series of physicochemical changes at the casein micelle level, resulting in formation of a gel. Milk coagulation properties (MCP) are relevant for cheese quality and yield, important factors for the dairy industry. They are also evaluated in herd bulk milk to reward or penalize producers of Protected Designation of Origin cheeses. The economic importance of improving MCP justifies the need to account for this trait in the selection process. A pilot study was carried out to determine the feasibility of including MCP in the selection schemes of the Italian Holstein. The MCP were predicted in 1,055 individual milk samples collected in 16 herds (66±24 cows per herd) located in Brescia province (northeastern Italy) by means of Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy. The coefficient of determination of prediction models indicated moderate predictions for milk rennet coagulation time (RCT=0.65) and curd firmness (a30=0.68), and poor predictions for curd-firming time (k20=0.49), whereas the range error ratio (8.9, 6.9, and 9.5 for RCT, k20, and a30, respectively) indicated good practical utility of the predictive models for all parameters. Milk proteins were genotyped and casein haplotypes (αS1-, β-, αS2-, and κ-casein) were reconstructed. Data from 51 half-sib families (19.9±16.4 daughters per sire) were analyzed by an animal model to estimate (1) the genetic parameters of predicted RCT, k20, and a30; (2) the breeding values for these predicted clotting variables; and (3) the effect of milk protein genotypes and casein haplotypes on predicted MCP (pMCP). This is the first study to estimate both genetic parameters and breeding values of pMCP, together with the effects of milk protein genotypes and casein haplotypes, that also considered k20, probably the most important parameter for the dairy industry (because it indicates the time for the beginning of curd-cutting). Heritability of predicted RCT (0.26) and k20 (0.31) were close to the average heritability described in literature, whereas the heritability of a30 was higher (0.52 vs. 0.27). The effects of milk proteins were statistically significant and similar to those obtained on measured MCP. In particular, haplotypes including uncommon variants showed positive (B-I-A-B) or negative (B-A1-A-E) effects. Based on these findings, FTIR spectroscopy-pMCP is proposed as a potential selection criterion for the Italian Holstein. © 2014 American Dairy Science Association.
- Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy
- Milk coagulation properties