From cow to cheese: Novel phenotypes related to the sensory profile of model cheeses from individual cows

J Dairy Sci. 2018 Jul;101(7):5865-5877. doi: 10.3168/jds.2017-14342. Epub 2018 Apr 19.


Milk samples were taken once from a total of 1,224 Brown Swiss cows from 83 herds, and 1,500 mL of raw full-fat milk from each cow was processed according to a laboratory-scale model-cheese-making procedure. A sensory panel was assembled and the members trained to evaluate the sensory profile of individual model cheeses. The protocol scorecard was composed of 7 main sensory descriptors related to smell intensity, flavor intensity, taste (salt and sour), and texture (elasticity, firmness, and moisture), and 40 sensory attributes describing smell and flavor profiles. Sensory data were analyzed using a mixed model that included random effects of herd, animal, and panelist, as well as fixed effects of dairy system, days in milk, parity, and order of cheese presentation, and covariates for cheese weight and fat:protein ratio. The sensory profile was not much affected by the dairy farming systems included in the trial, but it was affected by farm within dairy system: cheeses from traditional dairy farms had a greater wood/humus attribute of both smell and flavor than those from modern farm. Of the modern farms, cheeses from those using total mixed rations including silages had a more intense smell of sour milk and a firmer, less moist texture than those using total mixed rations without silages. Moreover, for all the sensory traits, we found less variance related to herd and animals than that related to the panelists and the residuals. Stage of lactation was found to be the most important, whereas parity was not relevant. In particular, cheese smell intensity (and some related attributes) exhibited a quadratic trend with lower values in mid-lactation, whereas flavor and salt descriptors were more intense in the last period of lactation.

Keywords: cheese aroma; cheese odor; cheese texture; dairy system; silage.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cattle / physiology*
  • Cheese*
  • Female
  • Food Preferences*
  • Milk / chemistry*
  • Milk / metabolism
  • Phenotype
  • Silage
  • Taste*