• Short Communication: The effect of dry period duration and dietary energy density on the rennet gelation properties of milk in early lactation

      Butler, Stephen T.; de Feu, M.A.; O'Brien, Bernadette; Guinee, Timothy P.; Murphy, J.J.; National Development Plan (Dublin, Ireland) (American Dairy Science Association and Elsevier Inc., 2010-02)
      This study was carried out to examine the effects of decreasing dry period duration (DP) and altering the energy density of the diet during early lactation on the rheological characteristics of milk. Forty mature Holstein-Friesian cows were used in a completely randomized design with a 2 × 2 factorial arrangement of treatments. Cows were randomly assigned to one of two dry period treatments and one of two nutritional treatments. The dry period treatments were continuous milking (CM) or an 8-week standard dry period (SDP), and the nutritional treatments were a standard energy diet (SE) or a high energy diet (HE). Actual dry period lengths were 6.3 ± 1.7 days and 62.1 ± 1.9 days for cows for the CM and SDP treatments, respectively. Milk samples were collected at 2, 6 and 10 weeks postpartum. The concentration of fat, protein and lactose was determined in each sample. The rennet gelation properties were measured at 31 ° C using dynamic low-amplitude strain oscillatory rheometry. The following parameters were obtained from the resultant elastic shear modulus (G′): gelation time (GT), maximum curd firming rate (CFRmax) and gel strength (GS). Reducing dry period duration from 62 to 6 days resulted in increases in milk protein concentration (31.8 vs. 34.7 g/kg; P < 0.001), CFRmax (2.58 vs. 3.60 Pa/min; P < 0.001) and GS (69.4 vs. 90.5 Pa; P = 0.003). Raising the dietary energy density decreased percentage milk fat (43.1 vs. 37.7 g/kg; P < 0.001) but otherwise had no effect. GS was correlated with CFRmax (r = 0.98; P < 0.001), and both variables were correlated with milk protein concentration (r = 0.71; P < 0.001, and r = 0.73; P < 0.001, respectively). The results indicate that decreasing the duration of DP increased milk protein concentration and improved the rennet gelation properties of milk, but that dietary energy density had little effect.