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Effect of stress on somatic cell count and milk yield and composition in goats

Mehdid, Amine, Martí-De Olives, Ana, Fernández, Nemesio, Rodríguez, Martín, Peris, Cristòfol
Research in veterinary science 2019 v.125 pp. 61-70
bulk milk, cortisol, dogs, goats, lactation, lactose, mammary glands, milk, milk composition, milk yield, normal values, somatic cell count
There is little information about the effect of the stress on Somatic Cell Count (SCC) and milk yield and composition in goats. A total of 40 goats in their 4th month of lactation were assigned to two groups: stress (STR) and untreated (CON). Goats of STR were exposed to acute stress (visual and auditory stimulus from a barking dog for 20 min on day 0). After the stress, average values of plasma cortisol were higher in STR than CON (P < 0.001); likewise, in STR group cortisol was lower in parity 1 + 2 goats than parity ≥3 goats (P < 0.05). Stress caused a considerable increase in SCC in parity ≥3 goats (P < 0.05), but not in parity 1 + 2 goats. On average, this increase of SCC was 6-fold compared to values prior to the stress, and it was observed in both healthy and infected mammary glands. This increase was transient, as SCC returned to normal values after 1 to 3 days. On day 1, stressed goats of parity ≥3 produced 11% less milk compared with day 0 and, regarding milk composition, only lactose showed a significant drop. Stressed parity 1 + 2 goats showed no changes in SCC and milk yield and composition. We conclude that, in goats, stress is a non-infectious factor that can interfere in the use of SCC as an indirect method of intramammary infection (IMI) detection or, in bulk tank milk, as a commercial milk quality parameter.