The fat in sheep milk is in the form of small fat globules, 1.5 12.0 mm in diameter, present as an emulsion in the aqueous phase. The average fat globule size in sheep milk is slightly smaller than that of cow milk and varies significantly in size during lactation. Sheep milk fat is characterized by a higher content of short-chain fatty acids (C4 C12) than cow's milk fat (20 25% to 10 12%, respectively).1-2-1 The short-chain fatty acids contribute many of the distinctive flavors observed in sheep milk and sheep milk products. Sheep milk fat also contains some volatile branched-chain fatty acids that have been associated with the flavor of lamb and some sheep milk cheeses. Milk fat of sheep is white in color since it does not contain carotenoids, e.g., ß-carotene, like cow milk fat. Milk produced in the early lactation (<30 days) in a mixed management system where ewes are milked once a day and the lambs are allowed to nurse the other half day results in milk with over 50% less milk fat than ewes milked twice a day since lambing. In the postwean period of the lactation, fat content is comparable for all management systems.
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