Effects of lamb sucking on the bacterial flora of teat duct and mammary gland of ewes
We aimed (i) to determine differences in bacterial flora of teat duct and mammary gland of ewes before and after suckling, (ii) to evaluate factors potentially affecting those. We collected samples of teat duct material and mammary secretion from 11 ewes immediately before and after sucking by lambs, as well as 120 min later. We processed samples bacteriologically and compared changes in infection by the Sign Test. We isolated bacteria from 3.5% duct and 1.5% secretion samples before suckling. Respective figures post-suckling were 10.6% and 2.0%, and 120 min later 6.8% and 1.5%. We recorded differences in infection of duct samples before and after suckling in 40 cases; bacteria were isolated before suckling from six samples, whereas after it from 34 (p < 0.001). Also, we recorded differences in samples collected after suckling and 120 min later in 12 cases; bacteria were isolated immediately post-suckling from eight samples, whereas 120 min later from four (p = 0.375). No significant changes were seen for secretion. We found neither difference between ewes with single or twin lambs, nor among stages of lactation. Mostly, we isolated staphylococci: 70% of isolates before suckling, 80% of isolates after it, 91% of isolates 120 min later. After suckling we also isolated two Mannheimia haemolytica strains. Suckling predisposes to entrance of bacteria into the teat; however, increased teat infections did not result in mammary infections. Isolation of M. haemolytica post-suckling indicates that lambs act as source of infection for this pathogen.