Genetic analysis of rennet coagulation time, curd-firming rate, and curd firmness assessed over an extended testing period using mechanical and near-infrared instruments

A. Cecchinato, C. Cipolat-Gotet, J. Casellas, M. Penasa, A. Rossoni, G. Bittante

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The aims of this study were (1) to analyze rennet coagulation time (RCT), curd-firming rate, and curd firmness obtained by extending the standard 30-min testing time to 45min; (2) to estimate heritabilities of the aforementioned traits determined by mechanical (Formagraph; Foss Electric, Hillerød, Denmark) and near-infrared optical (Optigraph; Ysebaert, Frépillon, France) instruments, and to assess the statistical relevance of their genetic background by using the Bayes factor procedure, the deviance information criterion, and the mean squared error; (3) to estimate phenotypic and genetic relationships between instruments within trait and between traits within instrument; and (4) to obtain correlations for sire rankings based on the used instruments. Individual milk samples were collected from 913 Brown Swiss cows reared in 63 herds located in Trento Province (Italy). Milk coagulation properties (MCP) were measured using 2 different instruments: Formagraph and Optigraph. Both instruments were housed in the same laboratory and operated by the same technician. Each sample was analyzed simultaneously on each instrument. All experimental conditions (milk temperature and the concentration and type of rennet) were identical. For the analysis, univariate and bivariate animal models were implemented using Bayesian methods. Univariate analyses were conducted to test the hypothesis that the traits showed additive genetic determination. Deviance information criterion, Bayes factor, and mean squared error were used as model choice criteria. The main results were that (1) RCT could be measured on all samples by extending the observation time to 45min, and its genetic parameters (h2=0.23) and breeding values could be estimated while avoiding the bias of noncoagulating samples; (2) curd-firming rate could be measured on almost all milk samples, and its genetic parameters could be estimated for the first time on a field data set (h2=0.21); (3) for the first time, genetic parameters of curd firmness 45min after rennet addition (h2=0.12) were estimated, and they were compared with curd firmness 30min after rennet addition (h2=0.17); and (4) MCP estimated using the Optigraph appeared to be genetically different from those determined by Formagraph, with the partial exception of RCT (genetic correlation=0.97). Breeding strategies for the improvement of MCP must be planned with caution. Currently, the high throughput, ease of use, and reduced costs of analysis make predictions obtained from mid-infrared spectroscopy (MIRS) on untreated milk samples a promising alternative to produce relevant data at the population level. The use of mechanical lactodynamographs to establish reference data for MIRS calibrations have been already studied, whereas the use of near-infrared optical lactodynamographs as a reference method for MIRS calibrations needs to be investigated. © 2013 American Dairy Science Association.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)50-62
JournalJournal of Dairy Science
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2013


  • Bayes factor
  • Heritability
  • Mechanical and optical lactodynamograph
  • Milk coagulation property


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