This study evaluated the effects of 3 widely practiced cow feeding systems in the United States, Europe, and Southern Hemisphere regions on the characteristics, quality, and consumer perception of sweet cream butter. Fifty-four multiparous and primiparous Friesian cows were divided into 3 groups (n=18) for an entire lactation. Group 1 was housed indoors and fed a total mixed ration diet (TMR) of grass silage, maize silage, and concentrates; group 2 was maintained outdoors on perennial ryegrass-only pasture (GRS); and group 3 was maintained outdoors on a perennial ryegrass/white clover pasture (CLV). Mid-lactation butter was manufactured in triplicate with milk from each group in June 2015 (137±7d in milk) and was analyzed over a 6-mo storage period at 5°C for textural and thermal properties, fatty acid composition, sensory properties, and volatile compounds. The nutritional value of butters was improved by pasture feeding, and butter from pasture-fed cows had significantly lower thrombogenicity index scores compared with butters from TMR-fed cows. In line with these results, pasture-derived milks (GRS and CLV) produced butter with significantly higher concentrations of conjugated linoleic acid (cis-9,trans-11) and trans-β-carotene than TMR butter. Alterations in the fatty acid composition of butter contributed to significant differences in textural and thermal properties of the butters. Total mixed ration-derived butters had significantly higher hardness scores at room temperature than those of GRS and CLV. Onset of crystallization for TMR butters also occurred at significantly higher temperatures compared with pasture butters. Volatile analysis of butter by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry identified 25 compounds present in each of the butters, 5 of which differed significantly based on feeding system, including acetone, 2-butanone, 1-pentenol, toluene, and β-pinene. Toluene was very significantly correlated with pasture-derived butter. Sensory analysis revealed significantly higher scores for GRS-derived butter in several attributes including "liking" of appearance, flavor, and color over those of TMR butter. Partial least square regression plots of fatty acid profiles showed clear separation of butter derived from grazed pasture-based perennial ryegrass or perennial rye/white clover diets from that of a TMR system, offering further insight into the ability of fatty acid profiling to verify such pasture-derived dairy products.
Keywords: butter; cow; diet; fatty acid; pasture; total mixed ration.
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