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Effect of stocking density on ewes' milk yield, udder health and microenvironment

  • AGOSTINO SEVI (a1), SALVATORE MASSA (a1), GIOVANNI ANNICCHIARICO (a2), SALVATORE DELL'AQUILA (a2) and ANTONIO MUSCIO (a1)...

Abstract

Three groups of 12 lactating Comisana ewes were housed in separate rooms of the same building that contained straw-bedded pens with total areas of 12, 18 and 24 m2. The ewes were assigned to groups with different stocking densities: high (HSD, 1 m2/animal), medium (MSD, 1.5 m2/animal) or low (LSD, 2 m2/animal). The LSD treatment resulted in lower air concentrations of total microorganisms and coliform bacteria than the other two. Ewes in the LSD group gave greater yields of milk, total protein and fat than those in the other two groups. LSD treatment increased milk casein content and improved clotting time and clot firmness. LSD also resulted in ewes giving milk with lower somatic cell counts and smaller concentrations of mesophiles, psychrotrophs and faecal coliforms than MSD and HSD. Subclinical mastitis occurred in three ewes of the MSD group and four ewes of the HSD group, while no cases were recorded in the LSD group. These results indicate that stocking density is a critical factor in dairy sheep housing and suggest that a space allocation <2 m2/animal may adversely affect the performance and health of the lactating ewe.

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Effect of stocking density on ewes' milk yield, udder health and microenvironment

  • AGOSTINO SEVI (a1), SALVATORE MASSA (a1), GIOVANNI ANNICCHIARICO (a2), SALVATORE DELL'AQUILA (a2) and ANTONIO MUSCIO (a1)...

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