Written by Ylva Persson, IGA Country Representative for Sweden
Associate State Veterinarian, National Veterinary Institute, Sweden
Goat farming in Sweden is a remnant from traditional agriculture. In previous times, this was an important activity for the rural population and was based on an extensive system. Today, there is growing interest in local food production, both among consumers and producers.
Most artisan farm dairies in Sweden keep dairy goats, while cows and sheep are less common. The main purpose of the production is cheese, but there is growing interest and demand for other products, such as meat, butter, raw milk, ice cream, etc. These dairy farms contribute to rural development by producing gastronomic products that can be served by local restaurants and hotels. They are also targets for tourism and create important work opportunities in villages, especially for women.
As indicated above, milk production is the most important product for the goat industry in Sweden, although most goats probably are kept as pets or for grazing purposes. Most goats are of the Swedish (or Scandinavian) landrace and we have approximately 12,000 goats in the country.
The general health of Swedish goats is good. Still, there is no organized or official goat health service, and few veterinarians have a deep knowledge of goat diseases. Nevertheless, Sweden is free from many serious goat diseases, including many zoonoses. Tuberculosis, brucellosis, paratuberculosis, scrapie, Peste des Petits Ruminants (PPR), and much more are diseases a Swedish goat owner is never concerned about. Common health problems are clostridiosis, lice infestation, and endoparasites.
After a successful eradication program, Norway is free from CAE, pseudotuberculosis, and paratuberculosis. The prevalence of CAE and pseudotuberculosis in Sweden is not fully known. There is a non-mandatory control program for CAE, but not for pseudotuberculosis.
In Sweden, like in many other countries, mastitis is the most important and costly disease in dairy goat production. National surveys on somatic cell count (SCC), mastitis prevalence and microbial etiology have not been performed. In one study, the mean bulk milk SCC for all herds was 709,000 cells/mL. The best herds have bulk milk SCC below 100,000 cells/mL in early lactation. In two limited studies on subclinical mastitis in dairy goats, the most frequently isolated bacterial species were coagulase negative staphylococci (CNS) followed by Staphylococcus aureus. In one of the studies, the most common CNS species was Staphylococcus warneri (25%), followed by Staphylococcus caprae (20%), Staphylococcus epidermidis (16%) and Staphylococcus xylosus (15%). β-lactamase production was rather prevalent among CNS isolates in both studies (27-34%). In recent years, MRSA has been found in a few goat herds in Sweden, although not in milk samples.
A growing risk related to the production of unpasteurized goat cheese is related to climate change. Over the last decades, rising temperatures caused the spread of ticks throughout Swedish territory, which led to an increase in the incidence of tick-borne encephalitis virus (TBEV). In Sweden, the TBE cases have been increasing for decades but there have not yet been any confirmed cases of transmission from raw goat milk products.
Persson, Y and Olofsson, I. Direct and indirect measurement of somatic cell count as indicator of intramammary infection in dairy goats. Acta Vet Scand. 2011 53:15. doi: 10.1186/1751-0147-53-15.
Ylva Persson, Torben Larsen and Ann-Kristin Nyman. Variation in udder health indicators at different stages of lactation in goats with no udder infection. http://www.smallruminantresearch.com/article/S0921-4488(13)00301-5/fulltext
Paulina Rytkönen, Madeleine Bonow, Magnus Johansson & Ylva Persson (2013): Goat cheese production in Sweden – a pioneering experience in the re-emergence of local food, Acta Agriculturae Scandinavica, Section B - Soil & Plant Science, 63: suppl. 1, 38-46
Ylva Persson, Åsa Järnberg, Patrice Humblot, Ann-Kristin Nyman and Karin Persson Waller. Staphylococcus aureus intramammary infections and somatic cell counts in dairy goat herds. http://www.smallruminantresearch.com/article/S0921-4488(15)30105-X/fulltext
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