Prediction of sheep bulk milk coagulation properties from mid-infrared spectral data




sheep, cheese, rennet, MIRS


The technological features of milk are essential for cheese manufacturing. This is particularly true for Italy, where most of the milk produced by sheep is intended for cheese production. The possibility to evaluate technological characteristics and coagulation aptitude of milk in advance, before any treatment, is crucial for decision-making at industry level. In the present study, we tested the ability of mid-infrared spectroscopy for prediction of coagulation traits (rennet coagulation time and curd firmness) by using more than 4000 bulk milk samples of 344 sheep herds. The models developed with a partial least square regression showed that spectral data points can be successfully used to predict the two traits. The coefficient of determination in external validation was 0.42 for rennet coagulation time and 0.28 for curd firmness, indicating that sheep milk delivered to dairies can undergo a preliminary screening only to assess the expected coagulation time. This finding will allow manufacturers to evaluate the milk received from farmers. Further investigation will be need to improve the prediction of rennet coagulation time that can be coupled with composition traits to define premiums or penalties in the payment system.






Research Papers