There are several elements within the world of milk and dairy that may be important for both manufacturers and consumers, and one of these is the maximization of milkfat. There are multiple components of milkfat production and one that’s increasingly showing up as a factor in overall milkfat concentration and related areas is known as de novo fatty acids.
What exactly are de novo fatty acids, why are they important for consumers of dairy products, and how do they impact overall milkfat concentration? Here’s a primer on all these, plus on some of the techniques used on dairy farms to increase de novo fatty acid content when desired.
De Novo Fatty Acid Basics
To understand de novo fatty acids, you have to first understand how fatty acids of all types are derived in milk. Generally speaking, there are two such sources:
- Preformed fatty acids: Fatty acids that are extracted from plasma, meaning they originate either in feedstuffs or from the mobilization of adipose tissue.
- De novo fatty acids: Derived from synthesis from precursors in the mammary gland.
We won’t dig too far into the specific chemistry that backs this basic description up, but one of the primary results is this: De novo fatty acids have shown specific connections with higher fat and protein levels in milk, which is why this is a growing area of interest.
In addition, de novo fatty acids have been shown to be related to some specific health benefits for humans, including increased absorption of cocoa polyphenols and a more stable lipid profile in individuals who consume dairy products. In other words, the more de novo fatty acids present in milkfat or dairy products, the broader and more substantial the benefits for individuals. More on this below.
Why High De Novo Fatty Acid Concentration is Desirable?
Why should both manufacturers and consumers of milk products care about de novo fatty acid content? Because, as we noted above, there may be significant impacts on health and related factors.
Preformed fatty acids, which we described above, come almost exclusively from the diet or body reserves and are utilized mainly for milkfat synthesis and little else. De novo fatty acids, on the other hand, can be used by the body in several additional ways, such as:
- Biological processes: For a variety of purposes, including energy storage and use.
- Fatty acid synthesis: These fatty acids also have a role in the synthesis of glycerolipids, sphingolipids, and ceramides.
- Body condition maintenance: Body fat stores may be used more efficiently, and overall body condition is more quickly achieved.
- Energy for lactation: These fatty acids can contribute to the production of energy substrate (ATP) for milk.
- Inflammation regulation: These fatty acids may help control inflammation, which is an important consideration in several ways.
Methods for Improving De Novo Fatty Acid Content
In many settings, due to the benefits we went over above, it will be desirable to up the content of de novo fatty acids within milk. Here are some of the management strategies taken at the farm level to accomplish this:
- Fresh feed increases: One method that’s shown strong results here is the increase of fresh feed to cows, from once per day to twice per day. This allows for more de novo fatty acids to be synthesized and deposited into milk, and also for the resulting milk to have a better flavor profile.
- Feed “pushups:” When we talk about pushing up feed, we’re referring to a situation where the same amount of overall feed is offered to cows, but feed is offered more frequently within a given day. This has often shown double-digit increases in de novo fatty acids, and may also help reduce methane emissions from cows.
- Ensuring quality fiber intake: Also vital here is the intake of physically effective fiber, which has been defined as partially fermented forage. Dairy cows should have at least 12% of their daily intake be these fibers, and to accomplish this, fiber sources such as high-quality hay need to be offered to the animals at all times.
- Bunk space: You may not have considered this as a factor in fatty acid content, but the space cows have plays a major role. Specifically, each cow should have a minimum of 18 inches of bunk space, if not more.
- Limiting unsaturated fat: Finally, as we touched on above, limiting unsaturated fat content will avoid the production of trans-10 and cist-12, which may limit de novo fatty acid concentration while also causing some other negative effects.
The farms we source our milk from use all the above methods in their milk production. Not only is our cream (only sold in bulk tanker quantities) the freshest available, the higher concentration of de novo fatty acids provides benefits that other fat sources may not. To learn more about our cream any of our milk protein concentrates or isolates, speak to the staff at Idaho Milk Products today.