Research: Milk Composition

Milk is a valuable source of energy, protein, minerals, and vitamins for offspring and in the human diet. The energy is especially provided from the lactose (milk sugar) and fat. Milk is harvested from several species and processed for commercial  distribution, but dairy cattle serve as the most prominent source of milk in the world. Feeding practices for dairy cows can especially alter the fat and protein contents of milk. The fatty acid content of milk not only has implications to energy concentration of the milk, but also specific fatty acids can play unique physiological roles in the metabolism of the cow and her offspring. Also, omega-3 fatty acids found milk have been attributed to some potential health benefits for humans. The research program of Dr. Maurice Eastridge has investigated various feeding practices on the production and composition of milk; the potential of role of C12:0 and C14:0 in the diets for pre-weaned Jersey calves; and various dietary factors that may affect biohydrogenation (saturation) of fatty acids in the rumen (first stomach compartment) of cows to affect the potential sources of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) in milk. Various feeding and management practices for dairy cows have been elucidated that can affect the CLA content of milk.