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From the News Archives ...

High vitamin E intake from pasture enhances milk's flavor and freshness

The standard dairy diet has relatively low levels of vitamin E. If vitamin E levels are too low, the milk can oxidize and develop an "off flavor." Dairy cows raised on pasture get far more vitamin E than cows kept in confinement and fed stored forage, as you can see by the graph below.

In a Canadian experiment, a herd of dairy cows with a history of oxidized milk problems was given a variety of dietary treatments: either a daily dose of 700 or 3000 IU of synthetic vitamin E or a month spent grazing fresh pasture. During each of these treatments, the cows' milk was graded on a scale from 0-3. A "0" indicated no oxidation and a "3" indicated severe oxidization. While on the higher dose of vitamin E, the flavor of the milk improved slightly, resulting in a barely passing grade of 1.2 But when the animals were grazing fresh pasture, the milk grade was 0.2, indicating an almost undetectable level of oxidation.

St. Laurent et al., Effect of alpha-tocopherol concentration to dairy cows on milk and plasma tocopherol concentrations and on spontaneous oxidized flavor in milk. 1990. Can. J. Animal Sci. 70:561-570.

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