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Effect of intensification practices, lambing period and environmental parameters on animal health, and milk yield and quality in dairy sheep production systems on Crete

Voutzourakis, N., Stefanakis, A., Stergiadis, S. ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-7293-182X, Rempelos, L., Tzanidakis, N., Eyre, M., Butler, G., Leifert, C. and Sotiraki, S. (2021) Effect of intensification practices, lambing period and environmental parameters on animal health, and milk yield and quality in dairy sheep production systems on Crete. Sustainability, 13. 9706. ISSN 2071-1050

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To link to this item DOI: 10.3390/su13179706

Abstract/Summary

Due to increasing demand, many traditional, grazing-based Mediterranean sheep production systems have introduced intensified feeding regimes, increased investments in facilities and equipment (milking machines) and modified their veterinary regimes to increase milk yields. However, compared to bovine milk production systems, there is limited knowledge about the impact of these intensification practices on animal welfare/health and on the quality of dairy products. The aim of this study was therefore to quantify the effects of production intensity/feeding regimes, lambing period and environmental background conditions on udder health parameters, gastrointestinal nematode infection levels and milk yield and quality parameters in traditional Sfakiano sheep production systems in Crete. Milk yields were higher in semi-intensive production systems while concentrations of several nutritionally desirable compounds such as omega-3 fatty acids were found to be higher in milk from extensive systems. Antibiotic and anthelmintic use was relatively low in both extensive and semi-intensive production systems there was no substantial difference in faecal egg counts, somatic cell counts (a marker for subclinical mastitis) and mi-cro-biological parameters assessed in milk. Recording of flock health parameters showed that animal health/welfare was high in both extensive and semi-intensively managed flocks, and that overall, the health status of extensively managed ewes was slightly better. In contrast, environ-mental conditions (temperature and rainfall) had a substantial effect on nematode infection levels and milk quality parameters assessed.

Item Type:Article
Refereed:Yes
Divisions:Life Sciences > School of Agriculture, Policy and Development > Food Production and Quality Division > Animal, Dairy and Food Chain Sciences (ADFCS)
ID Code:99793
Publisher:MPDI

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