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Effect of Sicilian pasture feeding management on content of α-tocopherol and β-carotene in cow milk

V. M. Marino ,*1 I. Schadt ,* S. Carpino ,* M. Caccamo ,* S. La Terra ,* C. Guardiano ,* and G. Licitra *†

* -Consorzio di Ricerca Lattiero Casearia (CoRFiLaC), 97100 Ragusa, Sicilia, Italy
†- Dipartimento di Scienze delle Produzioni Agrarie e Alimentari (DISPA), Agriculture Faculty, Catania University, 95123 Catania, Sicilia, Italy

Abstract

This study was performed to evaluate α-tocopherol and β-carotene contents of pasture milk under ordinary Sicilian farming conditions. Fourteen dairy farms were allocated into 2 balanced groups on the basis of cultivated (CULT) or spontaneous (SPO) pasture type feeding. Bulk milk per farm was collected 4 times from February through April at 3-wk intervals. Pasture botanical
and diet composition, diet nutritional quality, milk yield and composition were estimated each time. Pasture intake levels were calculated based on feed analyses, hay and concentrate amounts fed, and milk yield and chemical composition. According to pasture intake, the farms were split into low pasture intake (LPI; <29.5% of dry matter) and high pasture intake (HPI; >29.5% of dry matter) groups. Milk samples per farm were analyzed for α-tocopherol and β-carotene contents by HPLC. The SPO group had higher levels of α-tocopherol and β-carotene in milk (0.7 and 0.3 mg/L, respectively) and milk fat (19.0 and 7.5 mg/kg fat,
respectively) compared with the CULT group in milk (0.5 and 0.2 mg/L, respectively) and milk fat (14.6 and 4.9 mg/kg, respectively). High pasture intake compared with LPI increased α-tocopherol in milk fat (18.0 and 16.0 mg/kg of fat, respectively). However, only in the SPO (not in CULT), HPI compared with LPI increased milk α-tocopherol (0.8 vs. 0.6 mg/L, respectively), milk β-carotene (0.3 vs. 0.2 mg/L, respectively), and milk fat β-carotene (8.4 vs. 6.6 mg/kg, respectively). Results may be related to the different botanical composition of the respective pasture types and pasture intake. Spontaneous pasture compared with CULT contained a higher mass proportion of Asteraceae, Fabaceae, Cruciferae, Euphorbiaceae, and Malvaceae plants. Milk and milk fat α-tocopherol levels were higher on testdays (TD)-1, TD-2, and TD-4 compared with TD-3. For HPI farms, milk fat β-carotene content was higher on the first 2 TD compared with the last 2 TD. These differences could be related to plant biological stage. On Sicilian dairy farms, the highest milk α-tocopherol and β-carotene contents may be obtained feeding high levels of SPO pasture in the spring.

Key words: milk , α-tocopherol , β-carotene , pasture

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