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Breeding Holds the Key to Healthier Dairy Fat

Through innovation and creative thinking, the research project SOBcows have opened the door for a potential dairy revolution. As problems with obesity and malnutrition are growing around the world, innovating and developing ways to make dairy products healthier becomes ever more important. The research project SOBcows between Aarhus University and the agricultural knowledge center SEGES is trying to do exactly that, albeit in a new and different way.

Breeding for health

Over the past years, they have been tracking and registering the different fatty acids of all cows in Denmark, and breeding the cows in ways to maximize the healthy fatty acids while minimizing the unhealthy fatty acids.

As a result, fatty acid measurements are currently available on all cows in Denmark corresponding to 15 million samples, which is uniquely for Denmark. The research shows that the cow’s genes largely determine the content of various fatty acids in the milk, which allows “control” of the fatty acid composition in the milk through breeding.

Fatty acid measurements are currently available on all cows corresponding to 15 mio. samples, which is uniquely for Denmark

The milk and cheese of the future?

In the long term, the research project might enable Danish companies to produce dairy products – from milk to cheese – with a higher content of healthy fatty acids.

The Danish organic dairy company Naturmælk sees perspectives in innovating cheeses with a higher proportion of unsaturated fatty acids to a market that increasingly demands organic and healthy products. Therefore, the company has, as part of the project, developed the first cheeses with a higher content of unsaturated fatty acids on a test basis and the preliminary results look promising without significant taste differences between this and traditional cheese.

The project is a perfect example of how health and taste can go hand-in-hand, something that is extremely important in the Danish food innovation.