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Cattle health

Sweden has approximately 1.5 million cattle divided between dairy cows, beef cows and specialized calf production. The number of dairy herds has decreased rapidly over time while the number of dairy cows has decreased more slowly. Thus, the herd size has increased markedly with an average herd size of 106 cows in 2022. The number of herds with beef cows has gone down slightly during recent years while the number of beef cows varied somewhat: 22 cows was the average herd size in 2022.

En grupp kor ligger och idisslar på en betesmark med gräs och träd.
Swedish Red and Swedish Holstein are the most common dairy cattle breeds in Sweden. Photo: Bengt Ekberg/SVA

Swedish cattle are, in an international comparison, very healthy, and the use of antimicrobials is low. Many diseases that are present in other countries occur only sporadically or are absent. Efficient control and surveillance programs have resulted in freedom from diseases like tuberculosis, brucellosis, and paratuberculosis, as well as freedom from infections like bovine virus diarrhoea virus (BVDV), infectious bovine rhinotracheitis (IBR) virus and bovine leucosis virus (BLV). The prevalence of salmonellosis is also very low.

However, as the herd size has increased markedly in dairy herds the risk for spread of endemic infectious diseases has increased. Mastitis, udder inflammation, remains the most common illness in dairy cows, while diarrhea and respiratory diseases are most common among dairy calves.

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Last updated : 2023-03-28