By strategically feeding goats with chia seeds, INTA researchers obtained milk with a high content of fatty acids. In NOA (Northwest Argentina), it is common to see producers looking for cheaper alternatives to corn grain to feed their animals. In the region, chia intended for disposal appears as a supplement for ruminants. A research experiment, published in the journal RIA, found that the incorporation of this oilseed not only improved animal nutrition, but also produced milk with human health benefits.
Marcela Martínez, goat expert at INTA Salta and in charge of the research, highlighted the potential of this work. “What was obtained in the experiment with seeds intended for rejection is very good. For this reason, we now want to see what the results are if we feed the goats chia clean because we don’t know if they can be much better,” he said.
According to Martínez, the fatty acids associated with human health benefits, vaccinic acid (VA) and conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), increased by 133 and 97 percent, respectively. “The supplement “it allowed us to increase the fat content of the milk, at a very low cost and without introducing changes in production or in the protein and lactose content”, Martínez pointed out and added that “this increase was accompanied by a change in the profile of the milk. milk: those that considered ‘bad’ for human health have decreased and those considered ‘good’ have increased.”
Chia seeds are a great ally for digestion. In addition, it is one of the plant species with the highest concentration of omega 3 alpha-linolenic fatty acid, which helps control cholesterol and high blood pressure. The supplement fed to the goats contained 50 percent chia seeds, and the rest weed seeds, which, after study, they found to be non-toxic to the animals. According to Martínez, although the cost of feeding with this grain can increase significantly, “it is necessary to know the potential of the oilseed to know how close or far it is when using discarded seeds.”
The INTA Salta researcher noted that chia, in addition to being “the plant source with the highest concentration of linoleic acid,” has “very good palatability” for the goat herd, making it an almost cost-free option for grain replacement. they have a price, like corn. “Discarded chia could be sold, but there is no market today; today they are giving it away. This, along with good acceptance by the goats, makes this by-product an alternative to replace other cereals in the diet,” assures Martínez.
For example, instead of feeding the herd a whole ration of corn that is fit for their diet, half of it can be replaced with this oilseed that is given free today. Therefore, the addition costs are reduced, and the fat content is increased (without reducing the protein content of the milk), and thus the yields of the cheese they create. The properties that chia creates on goat’s milk can be transferred to its products (such as cheese), since goat producers in northern Argentina do not usually consume raw milk, but rather consume or sell cheese.
“Besides these beneficial properties for human health can be transferred to cheese, it could increase yields for that production sector in an area where chia is growing and what to do with the waste is not known.” he concluded. Martínez, who announced that he will work together with researchers from INTA Salt on a sensory panel to assess whether consumers can accept cheeses with functional discarded chia milk.