News Dairy

Less milking is the key for Cheddar color

May 6, 2024 - Klaas van der Horst

In less frequent milking lies the key to making a naturally more yellow/orange colored Cheddar. Cheese makers no longer need to reach for the bottle of B-carotene to avoid a too pale cheese. Research from the University of Cork and the Irish Teagasc shows this.

By far, most Irish dairy farmers simply milk twice a day, as is the case in most other places in the world. The entire farm rhythm is adapted to this. However, switching to a once-a-day milking rhythm has significant consequences for, among other things, the color of the Cheddar produced using the milk from these farms. This Cheddar naturally gets a more yellow color without using added carotene. This is because with once-a-day milking, the B-carotene content increases by 31%.

Thicker milk, fewer kilos
The milk from farms where milking is done once a day has more variations in composition. The milk is 'thicker' than milk from farms where milking is done twice a day. This is especially noticeable as the end of lactation approaches. The disadvantage of less frequent milking is that fewer kilos of milk are produced, and farmers must consider a lower income.

On the other hand, dairy farmers have more freedom in their daily rhythm and can potentially earn income in a different way. In Ireland, there are now about 200 dairy farmers who milk their cows once a day. A slightly larger group milks three times every two days. The vast majority of Irish dairy farmers stick to milking twice a day.

Klaas van der Horst

Klaas van der Horst is a senior market specialist in dairy at DCA Market Intelligence. He also closely monitors developments in politics and agricultural policy.