LONG PRAIRIE, Minn. – Jim Salfer spoke at the annual Todd County Area Goat Workshop Nov. 15. The University of Minnesota hosted the workshop for producers interested in learning about goat nutrition, production, reproduction and management.
    Salfer works at the U of M Extension regional office in St. Cloud, Minn., where he works on their dairy initiative. While his expertise is within the dairy cattle realm, he gave a presentation on milk quality and keeping milking does healthy.
    “We define milk quality through somatic cell counts, bacteria, residues, color, odor and flavor,” Salfer said.
    He said identifying somatic cells and mastitis are two of the main issues with goat health.
    “Somatic cell is not just another way to describe a mastitis cell,” Salfer said. “A somatic cell is a body cell, so they are present all over the animal. We run into issues when the number of body cells is saturating the milk, or when bacteria becomes present and causes mastitis.”
    Salfer explained how breed, stage of lactation and milking procedure also impact milk quality.
    “Goats have higher somatic cell counts than cows because of the makeup of their cells and their secretion method,” Salfer said. “They also produce in lower quantities, thus making the bacteria to milk ratio much different. Goats can have up to a two million SCC and still be fine.”
    If a goat is not getting mastitis from the presence of somatic cells, other reasons could be contagious organisms spread through milking equipment, bedding or wet teats.
    “Any liquid that comes in contact with the teat had to come off,” he said. “Bacteria swim. They don’t walk, and milk is the perfect food for bacteria.”
    When preparing for milking, he recommends a dry wipe of the teat, because water can add somatic cells.
    “Goats don’t need simulation before milking like cows do,” Salfer said. “Seventy percent of their milk is held in the cistern, or lower part, of the udder, which is the opposite of cows.”
    Because the foremilk will be the highest in somatic cell count, Salfer suggests a strip cup even though goats do not show mastitis in a chunky milk manner like cows do.
    “Mastitis in goats is more subclinical, so make sure you get those teats dry,” he said.
    Wearing gloves is also a smart choice to maintain healthy teats and udders, because farmers’ hands get dry and chapped, and bacteria love the cracks in our hands.
    Salfer suggests a post dip as well.
    “Post-dipping does two things,” he said. “When you take the unit off the teat, the teat will still be wet with milk and bacteria love milk. The dip will replace that milk with disinfectant and seal the teat end with disinfectant.”