Interest in methods that routinely and accurately measure and predict animal characteristics is growing in importance, both for quality characterization of livestock products and for genetic purposes. Mid-infrared spectroscopy (MIRS) is a rapid and cost-effective tool for recording phenotypes at the population level. Mid-infrared spectroscopy is based on crossing matter by electromagnetic radiation and on the subsequent measure of energy absorption, and it is commonly used to determine traditional milk quality traits in official milk laboratories. The aim of this review was to focus on the use of MIRS to predict new milk phenotypes of economic relevance such as fatty acid and protein composition, coagulation properties, acidity, mineral composition, ketone bodies, body energy status, and methane emissions. Analysis of the literature demonstrated the feasibility of MIRS to predict these traits, with different accuracies and with margins of improvement of prediction equations. In general, the reviewed papers underlined the influence of data variability, reference method, and unit of measurement on the development of robust models. A crucial point in favor of the application of MIRS is to stimulate the exchange of data among countries to develop equations that take into account the biological variability of the studied traits under different conditions. Due to the large variability of reference methods used for MIRS calibration, it is essential to standardize the methods used within and across countries.
Milk coagulation properties (MCP) are conventionally measured using computerized renneting meters, mechanical or optical devices that record curd firmness over time (CF(t)). The traditional MCP are rennet coagulation time (RCT, min), curd firmness (a(30), mm), and curd-firming time (k(20), min). The milk of different ruminant species varies in terms of CF(t) pattern. Milk from Holstein-Friesian and some Scandinavian cattle breeds yields higher proportions of noncoagulating samples, samples with longer RCT and lower a(30), and samples for which k(20) is not estimable, than does milk from Brown Swiss, Simmental, and other local Alpine breeds. The amount, proportion, and genetic variants (especially κ-casein) of milk protein fractions strongly influence MCP and explain variable proportions of the observed differences among breeds and among individuals of the same breed. In addition, other major genes have been shown to affect MCP. Individual repeatability of MCP is high, whereas any herd effect is low; thus, the improvement of MCP should be based principally on selection. Exploitable additive genetic variation in MCP exists and has been assessed using different breeds in various countries. Several models have been formulated that either handle noncoagulating samples or not. The heritability of MCP is similar to that of other milk quality traits and is higher than the heritability of milk yield. Rennet coagulation time and a(30) are highly correlated, both phenotypically and genetically. This means that the use of a(30) data does not add valuable information to that obtainable from RCT; both traits are genetically correlated mainly with milk acidity. Moreover, a(30) is correlated with casein content. The major limitations of traditional MCP can be overcome by prolonging the observation period and by using a novel CF(t) modeling, which uses all available information provided by computerized renneting meters and allows the estimation of RCT, the potential asymptotic curd firmness, the curd-firming rate, and the syneresis rate. Direct measurements of RCT obtained from both mechanical and optical devices show similar heritabilities and exhibit high phenotypic and genetic correlations. Moreover, mid-infrared reflectance spectroscopy can predict MCP. The heritabilities of predicted MCP are higher than those of measured MCP, and the 2 sets of values are strongly correlated. Therefore, mid-infrared reflectance spectroscopy is a reliable and cheap method whereby MCP can be improved at the population level; this is because such spectra are already routinely acquired from the milk of cows enrolled in milk recording schemes.
This study investigated the potential application of mid-infrared spectroscopy (MIR 4,000-900 cm(-1)) for the determination of milk coagulation properties (MCP), titratable acidity (TA), and pH in Brown Swiss milk samples (n = 1,064). Because MCP directly influence the efficiency of the cheese-making process, there is strong industrial interest in developing a rapid method for their assessment. Currently, the determination of MCP involves time-consuming laboratory-based measurements, and it is not feasible to carry out these measurements on the large numbers of milk samples associated with milk recording programs. Mid-infrared spectroscopy is an objective and nondestructive technique providing rapid real-time analysis of food compositional and quality parameters. Analysis of milk rennet coagulation time (RCT, min), curd firmness (a(30), mm), TA (SH degrees/50 mL; SH degrees = Soxhlet-Henkel degree), and pH was carried out, and MIR data were recorded over the spectral range of 4,000 to 900 cm(-1). Models were developed by partial least squares regression using untreated and pretreated spectra. The MCP, TA, and pH prediction models were improved by using the combined spectral ranges of 1,600 to 900 cm(-1), 3,040 to 1,700 cm(-1), and 4,000 to 3,470 cm(-1). The root mean square errors of cross-validation for the developed models were 2.36 min (RCT, range 24.9 min), 6.86 mm (a(30), range 58 mm), 0.25 SH degrees/50 mL (TA, range 3.58 SH degrees/50 mL), and 0.07 (pH, range 1.15). The most successfully predicted attributes were TA, RCT, and pH. The model for the prediction of TA provided approximate prediction (R(2) = 0.66), whereas the predictive models developed for RCT and pH could discriminate between high and low values (R(2) = 0.59 to 0.62). It was concluded that, although the models require further development to improve their accuracy before their application in industry, MIR spectroscopy has potential application for the assessment of RCT, TA, and pH during routine milk analysis in the dairy industry. The implementation of such models could be a means of improving MCP through phenotypic-based selection programs and to amend milk payment systems to incorporate MCP into their payment criteria.
The objectives of the study were to estimate the reproducibility and repeatability of milk coagulation properties (MCP) measured by a computerized renneting meter (CRM) and to evaluate the predictive ability of mid-infrared spectroscopy (MIRS) as an innovative technology for the assessment of rennet coagulation time (RCT, min) and curd firmness (a(30), mm). Four samples without addition of preservative (NP) and 4 samples with Bronopol addition (PS) were collected from each of 83 Holstein-Friesian cows. Six hours after collection, 2 replicated measures of MCP were obtained with CRM using 1 NP and 1 PS sample from each cow. Mid-infrared spectra of the remaining NP and PS samples from each animal were recorded after 6 h, 4 d, and 8 d after sampling. Two groups of calibration equations were developed using MIRS spectra and CRM measures of MCP as reference data obtained from analysis of NP and PS, respectively. Reproducibility and repeatability of CRM measures were obtained from REML estimation of variance components on the basis of a linear model including the fixed effects of herd and days in milk class and the random effects of cows, sample treatment (addition or no addition of preservative), and the interaction between cow and sample treatment. Coefficient of reproducibility is an indicator of the agreement between 2 measurements of MCP for the same milk sample preserved with or without addition of Bronopol. Coefficient of repeatability is an indicator of the agreement between repeated measures of MCP. Pearson correlations between MCP measures for NP and PS were 0.97 and 0.83 for RCT and a(30), respectively. Reproducibility of CRM measures under different preserving conditions of milk was 93.5% for RCT and 64.6% for a(30). Repeatabilities of RCT and a(30) measures were 95.7 and 77.3%, respectively. Based on the estimated cross-validation standard errors and coefficients of determination and ratios of standard errors of cross-validation to standard deviation of reference data, the predictive ability of MIRS calibration equations was moderate for RCT and unsatisfactory for a(30.) Predictive ability of equations based on spectra and MCP measures of PS was greater than that of equations based on data of NP. The study did not provide conclusive evidence on the effectiveness of MIRS as a predictive tool for MCP and it requires an enlargement of the variability of milk sampling circumstances. Because the relevance of MIRS predictions in relation to breeding programs for MCP based on indicator traits relies on the genetic variation of MIRS predictions and on phenotypic and genetic correlations between MIRS predictions and MCP measures, additional specific investigations on these topics are needed.
Hyperketonemia (HYK) is one of the most frequent and costly metabolic disorders in high-producing dairy cows and its diagnosis is based on β-hydroxybutyrate (BHB) concentration in blood. In the last 10 years, the number of papers that have dealt with the impact of elevated BHB levels in dairy cattle has increased. Therefore, this paper reviewed the recent literature on BHB concentration in blood and milk, and its relationships with dairy cow health and performance, and farm profitability. Most studies applied the threshold of 1.2 mmol/l of BHB concentration in blood to indicate HYK; several authors considered BHB concentrations between 1.2 and 2.9 mmol/l as subclinical ketosis, and values ⩾3.0 mmol/l as clinical ketosis. Results on HYK frequency (prevalence and incidence) and cow performance varied according to parity and days in milk, being greater in multiparous than in primiparous cows, and in the first 2 weeks of lactation than in later stages. Hyperketonemia has been associated with greater milk fat content, fat-to-protein ratio and energy-corrected milk, and lower protein and urea nitrogen in milk. The relationships with milk yield and somatic cell count are still controversial. In general, HYK impairs health of dairy cows by increasing the risk of the onset of other early lactation diseases, and it negatively affects reproductive performance. The economic cost of HYK is mainly due to impaired reproductive performance and milk loss. From a genetic point of view, results from the literature suggested the feasibility of selecting cows with low susceptibility to HYK. The present review highlights that milk is the most promising matrix to identify HYK, because it is easy to sample and allows a complete screening of the herd through BHB concentration predicted using mid-IR spectroscopy during routine milk recording. Further research is needed to validate accurate and convenient methods to discriminate between cows in risk of HYK and healthy animals in field conditions and to support farmers to achieve an early detection and minimise the economic losses.
Milk minerals and coagulation properties are important for both consumers and processors, and they can aid in increasing milk added value. However, large-scale monitoring of these traits is hampered by expensive and time-consuming reference analyses. The objective of the present study was to develop prediction models for major mineral contents (Ca, K, Mg, Na, and P) and milk coagulation properties (MCP: rennet coagulation time, curd-firming time, and curd firmness) using mid-infrared spectroscopy. Individual milk samples (n=923) of Holstein-Friesian, Brown Swiss, Alpine Grey, and Simmental cows were collected from single-breed herds between January and December 2014. Reference analysis for the determination of both mineral contents and MCP was undertaken with standardized methods. For each milk sample, the mid-infrared spectrum in the range from 900 to 5,000cm(-1) was stored. Prediction models were calibrated using partial least squares regression coupled with a wavenumber selection technique called uninformative variable elimination, to improve model accuracy, and validated both internally and externally. The average reduction of wavenumbers used in partial least squares regression was 80%, which was accompanied by an average increment of 20% of the explained variance in external validation. The proportion of explained variance in external validation was about 70% for P, K, Ca, and Mg, and it was lower (40%) for Na. Milk coagulation properties prediction models explained between 54% (rennet coagulation time) and 56% (curd-firming time) of the total variance in external validation. The ratio of standard deviation of each trait to the respective root mean square error of prediction, which is an indicator of the predictive ability of an equation, suggested that the developed models might be effective for screening and collection of milk minerals and coagulation properties at the population level. Although prediction equations were not accurate enough to be proposed for analytic purposes, mid-infrared spectroscopy predictions could be evaluated as phenotypic information to genetically improve milk minerals and MCP on a large scale.
The aim of the present study was to compare milk coagulation properties measured through a traditional mechanical device, the Formagraph (FRM; Foss Electric A/S, Hillerød, Denmark), and a near-infrared optical device, the Optigraph (OPT; Ysebaert SA, Frépillon, France). Individual milk samples of 913 Brown Swiss cows from 63 herds located in Trento Province (Italy) were analyzed for rennet coagulation time (RCT, min), curd-firming time (k(20), min), and 2 measures of curd firmness (a(30) and a(45),mm) using the 2 instruments and under identical conditions. The trial was performed in the same laboratory, by the same technician, and following the same procedures. Extending the analysis by either instrument to 90 min permitted RCT and k(20) values to be obtained even for late-coagulating milk samples. Milk coagulation properties measured using the OPT differed considerably from those obtained using the FRM. The average k(20) values varied greatly (8.16 vs. 5.36 min for the OPT and the FRM, respectively), as did the a(45) figures (41.49 vs. 33.66 mm for the OPT and the FRM, respectively). The proportion of noncoagulating samples for which k(20) could be estimated differed between instruments, being less for the OPT. The between-instrument correlation coefficients were either moderate (0.48 for a(30)) or low (0.24 and 0.17 for k(20) and a(45), respectively) when the same traits were compared. The correlations between k(20) and a(45), and milk yield varied among instruments, as did the correlations between k(20), a(30), and a(45) and milk composition, and the correlations between a(45) and pH. The relative influence of days in milk on k(20) and a(45) varied, as did the effect of parity on a(45) and that of the measuring unit of coagulation meter on k(20) and a(30). The RCT estimated by the OPT was the only milk coagulation property to show good agreement with the FRM-derived value, although this was not true for the data from late-coagulating samples.
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