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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

Lookup NU author(s): Nikolaos Voutzourakis, Dr Sokratis Stergiadis, Dr Leo RempelosORCiD, Dr Mick Eyre, Gillian Butler, Professor Carlo Leifert



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


© 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. Due to increasing demand, many traditional, grazing-based Mediterranean sheep production systems have introduced intensified feeding regimes, increased investments in infrastructure and drug use 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 and health and on the quality of dairy products. The aim of this study was therefore to quantify the effects of management practices and environmental conditions background on udder health, parasitism and milk quantity and quality in Cretan traditional production systems. 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 parasitic burden, somatic cell counts, and microbi-ological parameters assessed in milk. Recording of flock health parameters showed that animal health and welfare was high in both extensive and semi-intensively managed flocks, and that over-all, the health status of extensively managed ewes was slightly better. In contrast, environmental conditions (temperature and rainfall) had a substantial effect on parasitism and milk quality.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Voutzourakis N, Stefanakis A, Stergiadis S, Rempelos L, Tzanidakis N, Eyre M, Butler G, Leifert C, Sotiraki S

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Sustainability

Year: 2021

Volume: 13

Issue: 17

Online publication date: 30/08/2021

Acceptance date: 24/08/2021

Date deposited: 15/09/2021

ISSN (electronic): 2071-1050

Publisher: MDPI


DOI: 10.3390/su13179706


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Funder referenceFunder name
KBBE 222 632