a1 National Mastitis Reference Center, Kimron Veterinary Institute, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, PO Box 12, Bet Dagan 50250, Israel
a2 Department of Food Quality and Safety, Agricultural Research Organization, the Volcani Center, PO Box 6, Bet Dagan 50250, Israel
a3 S.A.E. Afikim, Afikim, Israel
The economical profitability of the dairy industry is based on the quality of the bulk milk collected in the farms, therefore it was based on the herd level rather than on the individual animals at real time. Udder infection and stage of lactation are directly related to the quality of milk produced on the herd level. However, improvement of milk quality requires testing each animal's milk separately and continuously. Recently, it was postulated that online equipment can estimate milk quality according to its clotting parameters, and thus result in better economical return for cheese making. This study further investigated the potential application of the AfiLab™ equipment to provide real-time analysis of milk-clotting parameters for cheese manufacture and cheese yield on quarter (1018) and individual cow (277) levels. Days in milk, lactose, log SCC and udder infection were found to have a significant effect on curd firmness and cheese properties and yield. The results clearly indicate that: (a) the parameter Afi-CF determined with the AfiLab™ is suitable for assessing milk quality for its clotting parameters, a value which is not provided by merely measuring fat and protein content on the gland and the cow levels; (b) bacterial type is the single major cause of reduced milk quality, with variations depending on the bacterial species; and (c) early and late lactation also had negative effects on milk-clotting parameters. Cheese made from the various milk samples that were determined by the Afilab™ to be of higher quality for cheese making resulted in higher yield and better texture, which were related mainly to the bacterial species and stage of lactation.
(Received May 24 2011)
(Accepted November 10 2011)
(Online publication December 08 2011)