Important Notice

The information on this website is intended for health care professionals only.

The information on this website is intended to give health care professionals a better understanding of infant nutrition. The information on this website is not a medical advice.

Ausnutria acknowledges that breastfeeding is the best way to feed infants aged 0-6 months and supports prolonging breastfeeding to 24 months (two years old).

Physico-chemical characteristics of goat and sheep milk

Article by: Young Park, M Juárez, Mercedes Ramos, G.F.W. Haenlein


Physico-chemical characteristics of milk are related to its composition for a particular animal species. Sheep milk contains higher levels of total solids and major nutrient than goat and cow milk. Lipids in sheep and goat milk have higher physical characteristics than in cow milk, but physico-chemical indices (i.e., saponification, Reichert Meissl and Polenske values) vary between different reports. Micelle structures in goat and sheep milk differ in average diameter, hydration, and mineralization from those of cow milk. Caprine casein micelles contain more calcium and inorganic phosphorus, are less solvated, less heat stable, and lose -casein more readily than bovine casein micelles. Renneting parameters in cheese making of sheep milk are affected by physico-chemical properties, including pH, larger casein micelle, more calcium per casein weight, and other mineral contents in milk, which cause differences in coagulation time, coagulation rate, curd firmness, and amount of rennet needed. Renneting time for goat milk is shorter than for cow milk, and the weak consistency of the gel is beneficial for human digestion but decreases its cheese yield. Triacylglycerols (TAG) constitute the biggest part of milk lipids (nearly 98%), including a large number of esterified fatty acids. Sheep and goat milk also have simple lipids (diacylglycerols, monoacylglycerols, cholesterol esters), complex lipids (phospholipids), and liposoluble compounds (sterols, cholesterol esters, hydrocarbons). The average fat globule size is smallest (<3.5 m) in sheep milk followed by goat and cow milk. Five fatty acids (C10:0, C14:0, C16:0, C18:0, and C18:1) account for >75% of total fatty acids in goat and sheep milk. Levels of the metabolically valuable short and medium chain fatty acids, caproic (C6:0) (2.9%, 2.4%, 1.6%), caprylic (C8:0) (2.6%, 2.7%, 1.3%), capric (C10:0) (7.8%, 10.0%, 3.0%), and lauric (C12:0) (4.4%, 5.0%, 3.1%) are significantly higher in sheep and goat than in cow milk, respectively. Principal caseins (CN) in goat, sheep and cow milk are s1 -CN, s2 -CN, -CN and -CN. The main forms of caprine and ovine caseino-macropeptides (CMP), which are the soluble C-terminal derivatives from the action of chymosin on -casein during the milk clotting process of cheesemaking, have been identified and are a good source of antithrombotic peptides. Sheep and goat milk proteins are also important sources of bioactive angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitory peptides and antihypertensive peptides. They can provide a non-immune disease defence and control of microbial infections. Important minor milk proteins include immunoglobulins, lactoferrin, transferrin, ferritin, proteose peptone, calmodulin (calcium binding protein), prolactin, and folate-binding protein. Non-protein nitrogen (NPN) contents of goat and human milks are higher than in cow milk. Taurine in goat and sheep milk derived from sulphur-containing amino acids has important metabolic functions as does carnitine, which is a valuable nutrient for the human neonate. Mineral and vitamin contents of goat and sheep milk are mostly higher than in cow milk.

Request full publication via: