An unprotected conjugated linoleic acid supplement decreases milk production and secretion of milk components in grazing dairy ewes. Academic Article uri icon


  • Feeding conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) in a rumen-inert form to dairy ewes has been shown to increase milk production, alter milk composition, and increase the milk fat CLA content. However, few studies have tested ruminally unprotected CLA sources. The objective of this study was to evaluate the effects of an unprotected CLA supplement (29.8% of cis-9,trans-11 and 29.9% of trans-10,cis-12 isomers as methyl esters) on milk yield and composition of dairy ewes. Twenty-four lactating Lacaune ewes were used in a crossover design and received 2 dietary treatments: (1) control: basal diet containing no supplemental lipid and (2) basal diet plus CLA (30 g/d). The CLA supplement was mixed into the concentrate and fed in 2 equal meals after morning and afternoon milkings. Each experimental period consisted of 21 d: 7 d for adaptation and 14 d for data collection. The CLA supplement decreased milk fat content and yield by 31.3 and 38.0%, respectively. Milk yield and secretion of milk lactose and protein were decreased by 8.0, 9.8, and 5.6%, respectively. On the other hand, milk protein content and linear SCC score were 1.8 and 17.7% higher in ewes fed the CLA supplement. The concentration of milk fatty acids originating from de novo synthesis (C16) was increased by 22.6% in ewes fed the CLA supplement. The CLA supplement decreased C14:1/C14:0, C16:1/C16:0, and C18:1/C18:0 desaturase indexes by 25, 18.7, and 0.1%, respectively, but increased the cis-9,trans-11 CLA/trans-11 C18:1 ratio by 8.6%. The concentrations of trans-10,cis-12 CLA and cis-9,trans-11 CLA in milk fat was 309 and 33.4% higher in ewes fed CLA. Pronounced milk fat depression coupled with the deleterious effects on milk yield, milk SCC, and secretion of all milk solids observed in ewes fed an unprotected CLA supplement is likely to be associated with high doses of trans-10,cis-12 CLA reaching the mammary gland, corroborating previous results obtained with dairy cows.

published proceedings

  • J Dairy Sci

author list (cited authors)

  • Oliveira, D. E., Gama, M., Fernandes, D., Tedeschi, L. O., & Bauman, D. E.

citation count

  • 18

complete list of authors

  • Oliveira, DE||Gama, MAS||Fernandes, D||Tedeschi, LO||Bauman, DE

publication date

  • March 2012