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Dairy goat farming is an important sector of the agricultural industry in Greece, with an annual total milk production exceeding 450 000 l and accounting for over 25% of all goat milk produced in the European Union; this milk is used mainly for cheese production. Despite the importance of goat milk for the agricultural sector in Greece, no systematic countrywide investigations in the bulk-tank milk of goats in Greece have been reported. Objectives were to investigate somatic cell counts (SCC) and total bacterial counts (TBC) in raw bulk-tank milk of goat herds in Greece, study factors influencing SCC and TBC therein and evaluate their possible associations with milk content. Throughout Greece, 119 dairy goat herds were visited for milk sampling for somatic cell counting, microbiological examination and composition measurement. Geometric mean SCC and TBC were 0.838 × 106 cells ml−1 and 581 × 103 cfu ml−1, respectively. Multivariable analyses revealed annual frequency of check-ups of milking system and total milk quantity per goat (among 53 variables) to be significant for increased SCC; no factor emerged (among 58 variables) to be significant for increased TBC. Negative correlation of SCC with total protein was found; mean total protein content in the bulk-tank milk in herds with SCC >0.75 × 106 cells ml−1 was 5.1% lower and in herds with SCC >1.5 × 106 cells ml−1, it was 7.8% lower.
The objectives of this work were (a) to determine the presence of streptococci in samples from small ruminant dairy farms (bulk-tank milk and, where possible, teatcup swabs), (b) to investigate the potential adverse effects of streptococci on milk quality and (c) to investigate the importance of some husbandry factors for the isolation of streptococci. Bulk-tank milk samples and teatcups swab samples were examined bacteriologically for the presence of streptococci. Somatic cell counting and milk composition measurements were also performed. The husbandry factors present in each farm were assessed for potential associations with the isolation of streptococci. Streptococci were isolated from milk samples from 31.4% of sheep and 17.4% of goat farms and from 4.8% of sheep and 5.9% of goat teatcups. Streptococci were isolated more frequently from the upper part than the lower part of teatcups: 5.0% vs. 1.9%. Most isolates (57.9%) were identified as Streptococcus uberis. Most isolates (68.4%) were slime-producing; slime-production was more frequent among isolates from teatcups (83.3%) than from bulk-tank milk (55.0%). Somatic cell counts and milk composition did not differ between farms in which streptococci were or were not isolated. Machine-milking was associated with the isolation of streptococci from bulk-tank milk samples. The initial stage of the milking period (first two months) was found to be associated with the isolation of streptococci from milking machine teatcups in sheep farms only.
The objective of the research described in this Research Communication was to describe potential associations of subclinical mastitis with sheep breeds in Greece. A countrywide survey (2198 ewes in 111 farms) was performed. Prevalence of subclinical mastitis was 0·260. Results did not indicate any difference in the prevalence of subclinical mastitis between farms with pure-bred and farms with cross-bred animals, nor any difference in prevalence between farms with Greek pure-bred animals and farms with imported pure-bred animals. Results indicated that prevalence of subclinical mastitis was smaller in farms with Assaf-breed (0·100) and higher in farms with Frisarta-breed (0·625) (P < 0·02). Prevalence of mastitis was smaller in farms with Greek traditional indigenous breeds (0·221) (P = 0·007). In a model that included sheep breed and management system in farm, breed emerged as a significant factor for prevalence of subclinical mastitis (P = 0·003).
This research communication describes the use of contrast-enhanced ultrasonographic examination (CEUS) in mammary glands of ewes for diagnosis of chronic mastitis; this is the first report of the use of this modality in diagnostic imaging of mammary glands of ruminants. For this purpose, a convex transducer was used, with the following settings: frequency: 2·0/4·0 MHz, mechanical index: 0·09, power: 22 dB, scanning depth: 70 mm, and sulphur hexafluoride in microbubbles at a dose of 20 µl as the contrast agent. In four healthy mammary glands (2 ewes), CEUS examination revealed a steady biphasic pattern of contrast agent kinetics characterised by initial uptake within 15–40 s post-injection, at which time intensity peaked with strong enhancement (130–200 AEU) followed by a gradual wash-out phase. In three mammary glands with history of clinical mastitis (2 ewes), the pattern was particularly inconsistent and unclear, with weak enhancement (<100 AEU) (P < 0·01) lasting for a short period. Notwithstanding issues regarding cost and withdrawal period of contrast-agent, this imaging modality may contribute to improved diagnosis of mastitis cases, especially on occasions when abnormalities cannot be easily confirmed by more conventional methods.
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