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Factors affecting goat milk production and quality

Goetsch, A. L., S. Zeng, and T. A. Gipson

Small Ruminant Research 101:55-63. 2011

Differences between production systems based on grazing and browsing vs. use of harvested feedstuffs in confinement largely depend on specific feedstuffs and plants available and being consumed. Low forage nutrient ingestion should have relatively greater impact on tissue mobilization than milk production in early than later periods of lactation, with a transition to proportionally greater change in milk production in late lactation. However, low body condition at kidding would limit tissue energy mobilization and restrict impact of level of nutrient intake to milk yield and, likewise, tissue mobilization would be less with one vs. two or three milkings per day. As lactation advances after freshening, fat and protein levels decrease with increasing milk yield, and when production declines in mid- to late lactation, fat and protein concentrations increase. Milk production generally peaks at a parity of 3 or 4, thereafter declining slowly. Elevated somatic cell count alone in dairy goats is not a valid indication of mammary infection. Extended lactations offer opportunities to minimize or avoid seasonal fluctuations in milk production and lessen production costs. If differences in performance between suckled and machine-milked dairy goats occur, they may be restricted to or of greater magnitude during the suckling period compared with post-weaning, and differences in milk yield will either be absent or less with one kid compared with greater litter sizes. The magnitude of effects of milking frequency on milk yield is less for goats of low vs. high production potential and with low vs. high diet quality. Likewise, the effect of milking frequency is greater in early and mid-lactation when yield is higher than in late lactation, along with a shorter period of peak production with one vs. two daily milkings. Physical form of the diet can affect production and composition of goat milk, although effects appear of smaller magnitude than in dairy cattle. When tissue is mobilized to support milk production in early lactation, levels of C18:0 and C18:1 cis in milk increase and levels of medium-chain fatty acids decline. Effects of elevated levels of dietary fatty acids on specific long-chain fatty acids in milk and milk products vary with the fatty acid profile of fat sources used.


 

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