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Multivariate analysis of the milk coagulation process in ovine breeds from Spain

Caballero-Villalobos, J., Figueroa, A., Xibrraku, K., Angón, E., Perea, J.M., Garzón, A.
Journal of dairy science 2018 v.101 no.12 pp. 10733-10742
Merino, cheesemaking, cluster analysis, coagulation, dairy sheep, discriminant analysis, ewe milk, farms, lactose, milk, milk composition, multivariate analysis, natural selection, pH, sheep, total solids, Spain
In Spain, ewe milk is mainly used for cheesemaking, and farming systems have traditionally been based on the use of autochthonous breeds. However, in recent years, the progressive introduction of highly productive foreign breeds in Spanish farms has led to an increasing interest in the characterization of dairy sheep breeds to evaluate whether genetic selection schemes should focus on productivity or milk technological aptitude. The purpose of this work was to explore milk composition and coagulation to classify 4 of the main dairy sheep breeds used in Spain. This study included 832 individual ewe milk samples from the breeds Manchega, Assaf, Merino de Grazalema, and Merino de Los Pedroches. Samples were analyzed for native pH, composition (fat, protein, lactose, and total solids), coagulation properties, and individual laboratory curd yield. An indicator of coagulation efficiency was also determined. Canonical discriminant analysis was performed to establish differences and similarities among breeds based on the measured variables. In addition, cluster analysis was performed to study and quantify the concrete relationships among the discriminated groups. Discriminant analysis proved to be a powerful tool to accurately draw distinctions between breeds. In all cases, discrimination among breeds was evident and the 4 breeds could be easily differentiated. Cluster analysis showed greater similarity between Merino de Grazalema and Assaf compared with the other breeds, and F-statistics indicated a higher discriminating ability for the variables related to milk composition. However, Merino de Grazalema and Manchega were difficult to separate according to milk composition, but the coagulation process differenced them clearly. Coagulation also evidenced similarities between Manchega and Merino de Los Pedroches, although the latter was revealed to be the most different breed of all 4, which could lay the ground for its differentiation as an independent breed in the Official Catalogue of Spanish Livestock Breeds.