Noninvasive measurements of carotenoids in bovine udder by reflection spectroscopy

J Biomed Opt. 2012 Oct;17(10):101514. doi: 10.1117/1.JBO.17.10.101514.


For a long time, the antioxidative status in cattle has been discussed as an indicator for stress conditions resulting from disease or exertion. Until now, invasive approaches have been necessary to obtain blood samples or biopsy materials and gain insights into the antioxidative status of cattle. Due to these efforts and the costs of the analyses, serial sampling is feasible in an experimental setting, but not for measurements on a routine basis. The present study focuses on the feasibility of an innovative, noninvasive spectroscopic technique that allows in vivo measurements of carotenoids in the skin by reflection spectroscopy. To this end, in a first trial, repeated measurements of the carotenoid concentration of the udder skin were performed on 25 healthy cattle from different breeds. Carotenoid concentrations showed highly significant differences between individual animals (P<0.001), although they were kept under the same environmental conditions and received the same diet. The carotenoid concentrations in "sensitive" and "robust" cows (evaluated by a temperament test) differed significantly (P<0.005), with higher concentrations observed in robust cows.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antioxidants / analysis*
  • Antioxidants / metabolism
  • Carotenoids / analysis*
  • Carotenoids / metabolism
  • Cattle / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Mammary Glands, Animal / chemistry*
  • Mammary Glands, Animal / metabolism
  • Spectrum Analysis / methods*
  • Stress, Physiological
  • Temperament


  • Antioxidants
  • Carotenoids