Over one lactation period 180 bulk raw milk samples from 13 farms with dairy sheep only, and 2 farms with both dairy sheep and dairy goats were collected for bacteriological examination. The geometric mean of total bacterial count (TBC) in sheep milk was 2.2 x 10(4) colony forming units/ml (cfu/ml) and 4.4 x 10(5) cfu/ml in goat milk. 93.7% of sheep milk and 77.3% of goat milk samples were below the statutory maximum of 1.5 x 10(6) cfu/ml, laid down in the directives 94/71/EC and 92/46/EC of the European Community for milk hygiene standards. In 95.6% of sheep milk samples and in 100% of goat milk samples the S. aureus count was below 500 cfu/ml. Other pathogens were not detected, except from one farm, where Yersinia enterocolitica was found in both sheep and goat milk samples.