Autochthonous dairy goat breeds showed better milk quality than Saanen under the same environmental conditions
Studies on goat milk have mainly focused on cosmopolitan breeds and very limited information is available on local breeds, which is important for biodiversity preservation and local cheese production. The aim of this study was to evaluate the breed effect on milk yield, composition and somatic cell score (SCS) of five local Italian goat breeds (Garganica, Girgentana, Jonica, Maltese and Mediterranean Red) compared with a cosmopolitan specialized dairy breed (Saanen). A total of 60 goats (10 per breed) from an experimental farm were enrolled in the study. Milk yield, composition and SCS were recorded and analyzed every 2 weeks during the entire lactation. Data were analyzed using a mixed model with repeated measures. Saanen yielded between 0.27 and 0.62 kg day−1 more milk than the local breeds. Among local breeds, Maltese and Jonica were the most productive, with an average of 1.28 and 1.25 kg day−1, respectively, while Mediterranean Red, Garganica and Girgentana produced ≤1 kg day−1. Saanen had the highest SCS (6.81) and the lowest fat content (3.26 %). In relation to protein, Garganica showed the greatest content (3.71 %), and Saanen had a similar content to other local breeds (3.42 %) except for Maltese, which was lower (3.11 %). Saanen and Garganica had the lowest lactose percentage (4.28 % and 4.26 %, respectively). All breeds followed a similar pattern across lactation: SCS and fat and protein content peaked at the end of the lactation, whereas lactose percentage was highest at the beginning of the lactation. Differences between Saanen and the local breeds for milk yield, composition and SCS were consistent across lactation. In conclusion, local breeds produced less milk but with lower SCS and greater fat and lactose content than the Saanen cosmopolitan breed, suggesting a better milk quality.