Factors affecting somatic cell count in dairy goats: a review

  • Rocío Jiménez-Granado Dept. Producción Animal. Facultad de Veterinaria. Universidad de Córdoba. Ctra. Córdoba-Madrid, 14071 Córdoba
  • Manuel Sánchez-Rodríguez Dept. Producción Animal. Facultad de Veterinaria. Universidad de Córdoba. Ctra. Córdoba-Madrid, 14071 Córdoba
  • Cristina Arce Dept. Producción Animal. Facultad de Veterinaria. Universidad de Córdoba. Ctra. Córdoba-Madrid, 14071 Córdoba
  • Vicente Rodríguez-Estévez Dept. Producción Animal. Facultad de Veterinaria. Universidad de Córdoba. Ctra. Córdoba-Madrid, 14071 Córdoba
Keywords: infectious and non-infectious factors, milk quality, mastitis, benchmarking


Somatic cell count (SCC) in monitoring udder health has been described in numerous studies as a useful method for the diagnosis of intramammary infection (IMI), and it is considered in standards of quality and hygiene of cow’s milk in many countries. However, several authors have questioned the validity of SCC as a reliable IMI diagnosis tool in dairy goats. This review attempts to reflect the importance of different infectious and non-infectious factors that can modify SCC values in goat milk, and must, therefore, be taken into account when using the SCC as a tool in the improvement of udder health and the quality of milk in this species. In dairy goats, some investigations have shown that mammary bacterial infections are a major cause of increased SCC and loss of production. In goats however, the relationship between bacterial infections and SCC values is not as simple as in dairy cattle, since non-infectious factors also have a big impact on SCC. Intrinsic factors are those that depend directly on the animal: time and number of lactation (higher SCC late in lactation and in aged goats), prolificity (higher SCC in multiple births), milking time (higher SCC in evening compared to morning milking) and number of milkings per day, among others. Extrinsic factors include: milking routine (lower SCC in machine than in manual milking), seasonality and food. In addition, milk secretion in goats is mostly apocrine and therefore characterized by the presence of epithelial debris or cytoplasmic particles, which makes the use of DNA specific counters mandatory. All this information is of interest in order to correctly interpret the SCC in goat milk and to establish differential SCC standards.


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How to Cite
Jiménez-GranadoR., Sánchez-RodríguezM., ArceC., & Rodríguez-EstévezV. (2014). Factors affecting somatic cell count in dairy goats: a review. Spanish Journal of Agricultural Research, 12(1), 133-150. https://doi.org/10.5424/sjar/2014121-3803
Animal health and welfare