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Finding the Best Cheese Cow in Scandinavia

02 December 2014

Genes have a major impact on milk coagulation and a cow's suitability for cheese production.

A Scandinavian partnership has found "significant differences" across breeds and within breeds, which is largely due to genetic make-up. 

Milk from Danish Jerseys, Danish Holsteins and Swedish Red Dairy cows was examined by the Danish-Swedish Milk Genomics Initiative, which involved researchers from Aarhus University, Denmark and Lund University, Sweden.

Jerseys were best by far.

IMAGE NAME/DESCRIPTION
Best cheese cows were Jerseys. Holsteins came second beating Danish Reds in the Scandinavian Study. Photo Courtesy of Jesper Rais

The worst cheese cows were Swedish reds, of which 16 per cent produced milk which could not coagulate.

Of the Holsteins, two per cent produced milk that was unable to coagulate and 17 per cent produced milk of poor coagulating ability.

The Reds score was "alarmingly high" and of economic significance, said researcher Nina Aagaard Poulson, Aarhus University.

However, a solution could be on its way. Certain genes hold the key, which have been identified.

"Our results show there are good prospects for improving milk coagulation properties via selective breeding," added Nina Aagaard Poulson.

"It’s important to ensure that selective breeding for good milk coagulation properties doesn’t affect the other good qualities of milk, but we do now have the opportunity to create dairy herds that are specifically bred for cheese production."

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