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Extension > Agriculture > Dairy Extension > Milk quality and mastitis > Winter Teat Care - Dip But Don't Drip!

Winter Teat Care - Dip But Don't Drip!

Chuck Schwartau

Published in Dairy Star January 15, 2005


Cold winter weather in the Midwest creates special challenges for dairymen trying to maintain healthy teats on the cows in their milking string. Teat dipping is the accepted norm as an important practice toward controlling mastitis in dairies. But when cold weather hits, the temptation is to quit post-dipping teats. In typical winter conditions, there are seldom post-dipping problems; however, when wind chills approach minus (-) 25° F, preventive measures are in order. This is a time when special concerns call for special care.

Researchers at several land-grant universities have documented that chapped and cracked teats are more prone to infection, including Staph aureus, in cold weather. The cracks harbor bacteria and offer an entrance for further infection. There are some management practices that can be followed, however, without compromising the protection of teat dipping. Consider these:

In summary, dry teats and wind protection are the two simplest protective measures to prevent freezing teats on cows. A little extra time spent at the end of the milking process to guarantee dry teats during cold weather conditions will be time well spent. This will help assure healthier teats of the cows in the milking string. Healthy teats will also provide an easier job for the milkers since cows will not be as sensitive to their touch and the application of the milking units.

For more information about winter teat dipping, teat care and a full range of other milk quality topics, refer to the Quality Count$ website.

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