Researchers from the University of Cordoba and the University of Leon in Spain established a dairy lab to study the genetic parameters that affect cheese production. Their goal was to produce more cheese using less milk.

Sheep milk production is on the rise and is primarily used to produce cheese, which requires a large amount of milk. Farmers and producers have been looking for ways to increase cheese yield while using less milk. The team has been working since 2003 to study the composition, quality and technical parameters of milk to provide the livestock industry insight that would improve milk quality, productivity and yield.Research team working at the Milk Lab. Source: University of CórdobaResearch team working at the Milk Lab. Source: University of Córdoba

For this study, the researchers focused on the genetic parameters that affect the cheese production of milk from Churra sheep, one of the oldest breeds on the Iberian Peninsula. Traits related to rennet and milk properties, including pH, milk yield, fat and protein content, were analyzed.

The team created a dairy laboratory. In this lab, researchers analyzed milk samples, measured pH, gathered the physical and chemical parameters of milk and more. The lab's goal was to gather information on the traits that should be included in the genetic selection scheme of the Churra breed to produce ewes with milk that would create a higher yield in cheese production. The team's results found low to moderate heritability of the traits, suggesting that milk production improvement can be achieved with genetic selection.

Outside of this study, the dairy lab specializes in the study of the Manchega breed, the most important sheep in terms of quality and economic weight in the sector. The lab team is searching for a faster, cheaper and more efficient method to measure the quality of milk according to its composition. They are also trying to determine if chromaticity can provide information that will help evaluate milk quickly and cheaply and solve the problem of water retention in curd. Water retention has an effect on a large amount of milk needed to create cheese. They are also creating math models to achieve more efficient milk for cheese production.

A paper on this research was published in Journal of Diary Science.