The Alpine goat and local breeds in industrialised nations have been impacted by rising goat milk consumption, which has resulted in a shift in dairy product preferences. As a result, livestock biodiversity has decreased since local breeds have distinct characteristics such as robust behaviour in the local climate and good quality dairy products.
According to a research that compared the fundamental lactation variables of the Alpine goat with the local breed Verzasca goat, the Verzasca goat exhibits general lactation characteristics similar to the Alpine goat, but with lower milk daily output and somatic cell count. These findings help to improve our understanding of Italian goat breeds and biodiversity protection.
Introduction of Alpine Goat
In recent years, goat milk production has become a big sector, with India and China being the world’s leading producers of goat milk and meat. In the last three decades, the production of goat-derived goods has increased, owing to a shift in food tastes in industrialised nations and an expansion in semi-desertic areas. However, it is probable that FAO estimates on goat meat and milk output are understated due to customary local production for family consumption.
The chemical composition differences between cow milk and goat milk have been studied, with certain health advantages connected with goat milk. Goat milk is thought to have lesser allergenic qualities than cow milk, making it a suitable replacement for cow milk in children with milk allergies.
However, the hypoallergenic property of goat dairy products is determined by the concentration of s1-casein, which is determined by a wide range of genetic polymorphisms in this casein protein.
Goat milk output in Italy has steadily increased, reaching over 450,000 quintals in 2019. However, the widespread use of goat milk has resulted in a flattening of the genetic traits of cosmopolitan goat breeds, which are mostly utilised for milk production.
Studies have shown that Mediterranean autochthonous goat breeds had better milk outputs than Saanen, Alpine, and Maltese goats, as well as higher coagulative aptitude and nutritional value of cheeses.Alpine goats, which originated in Switzerland, have been transferred to France, Italy, and Germany, but Verzasca goats, which originated in the Verzasca Valley, are known for their great rusticity and resilience.
Materials and Procedures
In this study, 71 Alpine and Verzasca goats were studied in Varese province, Northern Italy, as part of a semi-extensive agricultural system. During the winter, the goats were housed indoors and given hay ad libitum with increasing concentrate supplementation. They were allowed to graze on mountain pasture from March to November.
According to Maggioni et al., the diet was centred on vegetable essences native to the region. Clinically healthy goats with eutocic birth and routine post-partum were used in the study. The average rectal temperature was between 38.5 and 39.7 °C, with Alpine goats having a BCS of 2.8 and Verzasca goats having a BCS of 2.7. The study looked at how age and days in milk (DIM) affected response factors.
- Sample Collection and Examination
From February through September, the Milk Standard Laboratory of the Italian Breeder Association (A.I.A.) collected milk samples for examination. There were 121 Alpine goat samples and 170 Verzasca individuals. Hand milking samples were obtained prior to morning milking and analysed in duplicate.
The infrared technique was used to quantify fat, protein, and lactose percentages, while the Bentley SOMACOUNT 150 was used to assess somatic cell count (SCC). Lipomobilization indices and post-partum disorders were computed using fat/protein and fat/lactose ratios.
- Analysing Statistical Data
A Bayesian technique was utilised in the study to examine the effects of breed, age class, and lactation time on response variables. The Jeffreys categorization of Bayes Factor (BF10) or inverse (BF01) was used to measure the relevance of posterior probability.
The study was carried out using the Windows software jamovi, and the model was summarised using mean value and standard deviation. The variations in age class and days in milk class across breeds were based on the interplay of variables. In addition, the Bayesian correlation coefficients between variables in each breed were computed.
Alpine goats produced more milk in a single milking than Nera Verzasca, with a peak found between 51 and 100 DIM. The milk output declined progressively with age, as did the fat and protein percentages. When evaluating DIM classes, milk fat percentage and protein % revealed a “U” shape pattern. The Nera Verzasca breed has a greater milk lactose content than the Alpine breed, with a consistent, declining trend.
The fat/protein ratio in milk varied dramatically with DIM, with no evidence of breed or age class variations. Somatic cell count (SCC) rose with age and DIM class, however there were no statistically significant variations across breeds, despite a greater value in Alpine breed milk.
Under the same farm management settings, the researchers examined the lactation features of a native Italian/Southern Swiss goat breed (Nera Verzasca) with a cosmopolite breed (Alpine goat). The results indicated that the local breeds produced less milk than the Alpine variety, although the SCC was lower in the local Nera Verzasca breed.
The average daily milk output in the Alpine subjects was comparable to Zeng et al.’s results for Alpine goats, but with a lower yield in the Nera Verzasca breed. The study also discovered that the Nera Verzasca breed attained a milk production peak between 51 and 100 days following a modest dip between 31 and 50 days of lactation. Management strategies, feeding systems, and fat percentage all have an impact on milk output in various breeds.
The relationship between milk output and lactose is greater in our data, presumably due to higher lactose concentrations. However, because to dilution effects, milk output is adversely associated with fat percentage, protein %, and SCC.
The Nera di Verzasca goat, a Northern Italian breed, has lactation features with cosmopolitan types such as Alpine, but has a lower milk daily production. More study is needed to understand the reasons for these variations and how they affect milk transformation. These findings are critical for biodiversity conservation because, despite reduced production levels, indigenous breeds can produce high-quality, safe goods and ecological services in marginal locations.