Genetic parameters of milk coagulation properties and their relationships with milk yield and quality traits in Italian Holstein cows

J Dairy Sci. 2008 Jan;91(1):371-6. doi: 10.3168/jds.2007-0308.


Milk coagulation properties (MCP) are an important aspect in assessing cheese-making ability. Several studies showed that favorable conditions of milk reactivity with rennet, curd formation rate, and curd strength, as well as curd syneresis, have a positive effect on the entire cheese-making process and subsequently on the ripening of cheese. Moreover, MCP were found to be heritable, but little scientific literature is available about their genetic aspects. The aims of this study were to estimate heritability of MCP and genetic correlations among MCP and milk production and quality traits. A total of 1,071 Italian Holstein cows (progeny of 54 sires) reared in 34 herds in Northern Italy were sampled from January to July 2004. Individual milk samples were collected during the morning milking and analyzed for coagulation time (RCT), curd firmness (a30), pH, titratable acidity, fat, protein, and casein contents, and somatic cell count. About 10% of individual milk samples did not coagulate in 31 min, so they were removed from the analyses. Estimates of heritability for RCT and a30 were 0.25 +/- 0.04 and 0.15 +/- 0.03, respectively. Estimates of genetic correlations between MCP traits and milk production traits were negligible except for a30 with protein and casein contents (0.44 +/- 0.10 and 0.53 +/- 0.09, respectively). Estimates of genetic correlations between MCP traits and somatic cell score were strong and favorable, as well as those between MCP and pH and titratable acidity. Selecting for high casein content, milk acidity, and low somatic cell count might be an indirect way to improve MCP without reducing milk yield and quality traits.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cattle / genetics*
  • Cheese*
  • Female
  • Italy
  • Lactation
  • Linear Models
  • Male
  • Milk / chemistry*
  • Milk / metabolism
  • Selection, Genetic