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Sustainable intensification? Increased production diminishes omega-3 content of sheep milk

Voutzourakis, N., Tzanidakis, N., Stergiadis, S. ORCID:, Rempelos, L., Eyre, M., Atsali, I., Franceschin, E., Leifert, C., Stefanakis, A., Sotiraki, S. and Butler, G. (2020) Sustainable intensification? Increased production diminishes omega-3 content of sheep milk. Sustainability, 12 (3). 1228. ISSN 2071-1050

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To link to this item DOI: 10.3390/su12031228


Intensifying agricultural production alters food composition, but this is often ignored when assessing system sustainability, yet it could compromise consumers’ health and the concept of ‘sustainable diets’. Here we consider milk composition from Mediterranean dairy sheep, finding inferior fatty acid (FA) profiles with respect to consumer health as a result of a more intensive system of production. Semi-intensive management did produce 57% more milk per ewe with 20% lower fat content, but inferior fat composition. Milk had a nutritionally poorer fatty acid (FA) profile, with 18% less omega-3 FA (n-3) (19% less long-chain n-3) and 7% less monounsaturated FA but 3% more saturated FA (9% higher in C14:0) concentrations compared with ewes under traditional, extensive management. Redundancy analysis identified close associations between fat composition and animal diets, particularly concentrate supplementation and grazing cultivated pasture - n-3 was associated with grazing diverse, native mountain pastures. The paper questions if identifying such key elements in traditional systems could be deployed for ‘sustainable intensification’ to maintain food quality whilst increasing output.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Life Sciences > School of Agriculture, Policy and Development > Department of Animal Sciences > Animal, Dairy and Food Chain Sciences (ADFCS)- DO NOT USE
ID Code:88905


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