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Monitoring goat and sheep milk somatic cell counts

Paape, M.J., Wiggans, G.R., Bannerman, D.D., Thomas, D.L., Sanders, A.H., Contreras, A., Moroni, P., Miller, R.H.
Small ruminant research 2007 v.68 no.1-2 pp. 114
milk analysis, milk quality, milk composition, somatic cell count, goat milk, milk, ewe milk, dairy cows, monitoring, etiology, parity (reproduction), lactation stage, breeds, geographical variation, mammary gland diseases, species differences, least squares, correlation, reference standards, European Union, United States, Europe
The milk somatic cell count (MSCC) forms the basis of abnormal milk control programs world wide for goats, cows and sheep. To better understand factors that contribute to elevations in MSCC, the effects of stage of lactation, parity, breed and state/area in the United States (US) on MSCC were examined. Least squares means were calculated on composite milk somatic cell scores from 26,607 goats, 5,944,614 cows and 2197 sheep and the results converted back to MSCC. For goats and cows, MSCC increased with stage of lactation and parity. Counts for cows were lower than counts for goats. By the fifth parity, counts for goats increased to 1,150,000 ml-1, exceeding the 1,000,000 ml-1 legal limit for goat milk in the US, whereas maximum counts for cows averaged only 300,000 ml-1, less than the 750,000 ml-1 legal limit in the US and 400,000 in the European Union (EU). Currently, there is no legal limit for goat milk in the EU. For sheep, MSCC for first parity were higher than for later parities. For later parities, MSCC decreased with advanced lactation. Cell counts for sheep milk were similar to counts for cow milk. Breed and state/area contributed to variation in cell count for goats and cows. Data were not available for sheep. Studies in the US and EU examined non-infectious factors contributing to elevations in cell counts. Non-infectious factors such as parity and stage of lactation had minimal effects on MSCC for cows and sheep, but had a major impact on counts for goats, and need to be considered when establishing legal limits for goat milk.