Cow Udders: Caring For Dairy Cattle Teats 2018
How our cow teat scrubbers help boost your herd’s productivity.
The health of your cow udders will directly affect the volume and quality of milk produced by a dairy herd in the UK and can have a huge impact on the profitability of the farm. There are many factors that can cause an increase or decrease in productivity, some of which are very difficult for farmers to control. Hygiene for cow udders, however, is well within your power to control and can dramatically increase the profitability of your herd. Good hygiene, particularly when it comes to the teats and udders, not only ensures good welfare standards, which encourage higher milk yields but also reduces the risk of incurring costs such as a programme of antibiotics or financial penalties for low-quality milk.
It is unsurprising that advances in technology have been applied to help overcome the many challenges in keeping dairy cows’ teats clean prior to milking. Some of the latest systems to hit the market have contributed to faster milking, reduced levels of infection, higher milk quality, reduced use of antibiotics and elimination of the use of consumables such as medicated wipes and paper towels during the process of milking.
How is cow teat health compromised?
There are a huge number of ways that your cow udders and teats can be negatively affected by the environment and the cleaning regime they are subjected to. Infectious disease lurks in the environment; for example, Escherichia coli (E. coli) is often found in the slurry, and very easily transfers from being present in the environment to causing infection in open teat canals during or shortly after milking. Once established, the infection can be transferred from teat to teat or even cow to cow, affecting the majority of the herd within a short time period.
Mastitis is the most common infection that affects dairy cow udders and is estimated to cost the UK dairy industry over £200 million a year ( While infected, cows may experience discomfort and pain to the extent that they cannot be milked from the most affected teats, and the milk that is produced is lower quality, attracting financial penalties.
Infections are easily passed along during the milking process. Even with the utmost care, manual cleaning techniques are subject to human error, and sharing equipment between infected and healthy livestock is a risk that most dairy farmers have to take.
Why is cow udder hygiene important for productivity?
Good hygiene in dairy cows is crucial for productivity for a number of reasons. Infections can reduce milk quality; for example, mastitis is
detected by measuring the somatic cell count (SCC), or a number of body cells (mostly white blood cells and epithelial cells) in the milk. A high SCC indicates infection and has implications for how the milk can be stored and used, which in turn affects its value. Particularly high SCC values attract financial penalties, and the highest values result in the milk being deemed unfit for human consumption.
Mastitis also damages milk-producing tissue in the udder and causes discomfort and pain in the cow, which can cause slower milk let-down, longer milking time and reduced overall yield. Treatment with antibiotics increases the amount of money spent per animal, and the infection can easily spread to other cows. Hygienic teat management is the primary recommendation in advisory documents about the prevention of mastitis.
What are the options for improving cow udder health?
Traditional methods for cleansing teats before milking are low-tech and labour intensive, involving the use of consumables such as medicated wipes and towels.
The latest technology available to help solve the challenge of hygiene is found in teat preparation systems, which combine all of the steps of traditional teat cleansing in one device, with the added benefits of reduced use of consumables and no need for the operator to get their hands dirty by working directly with unclean teats and disposing of soiled materials. This new way of preparing dairy cow teats provides the dairy industry with unparalleled value for money by reducing infections and increasing efficiency.
How does a cow teat preparation system work, and what are the benefits?
One such system, the award-winning Teat Sanicleanse System, uses three rotating brushes in a handheld system to wash, disinfect, dry and stimulate the teats in around 10 seconds per cow. The top two brushes wash and massage the external surfaces and base of the udders, while the third sanitises the tops of the teats. It is suspended from a stainless-steel wire above head height, running the full length of the parlour. By washing the cow udders and eliminating the first few drops of milk, the system removes a broad spectrum of disease-causing bacteria. A warm water brush massage stimulates the production of Oxytocin, encouraging rapid milk let-down and a shorter milking time per cow.
This also improves the milk quality both in the short term, by minimising non-milk particles entering the milking system, and long-term by reducing instances of mastitis and therefore lowering the SCC of the milk. Fewer infections and the maintenance of clean hands of whoever is performing the milking also prevent infections spreading from one animal to the next. Additionally, it can be used in conjunction with the ‘brush flush’ system, also by Northern Dairy, which adds a small amount of peracetic acid onto the brush to eliminate cross-contamination.
The system accommodates all teat lengths, including shorter heifer teats. The chemical used in the system leads to healthier animals and softer cow udders and teats. Reduction in somatic cell count and incidences of mastitis in cows increases milk quality and animal welfare. It has been shown to control a wide range of infectious bacteria found in dairy cow herds.