Teat dipping, both pre and post milking, is a key practice to prevent and control mastitis in the milking herd. We have had some cold weather recently, accompanied by strong winds at times that have produced some single and below zero windchills. I saw a forecast that is calling for unseasonably cold temperatures in early February. Cold temperatures, especially those single digit temperatures, sometimes raise the question if teat dipping should be discontinued for a time to avoid the possibility of frozen teats. Teat dipping practices should continue during cold weather, but with some tweaks to the procedure and practice.
One of the important changes to teat dipping during cold weather is to make sure that the post-dip is a product with increased levels of emollients that serve to protect, heal and soften the skin of the teat. During periods of severe cold weather (temperatures under 15 degrees F and wind speeds 10 mph or greater) there is an increased possibility that wet teats can experience freeze damage. Therefore, under these conditions, apply the post-dip, allow 30 seconds of contact time and then wipe teats dry prior to leaving the parlor. This modification is going to add approximately 20 seconds more time per cow, but the benefits of post dipping to reduce intramammary infection is maintained. During periods when low wind chill temperatures are a concern, providing wind breaks or shields to protect cows is beneficial, especially if cows exit the parlor with freshly dipped teats into an area where the wind is channeled.
Winter weather can result in increased incidences of roughened teat ends, termed hyperkeratosis. These teat ends are more difficult to clean. According to a January 22, 2020 dairy herd management on-line article, milking parlor workers should be taught to wipe teats in a downward, twisting motion on each teat. Start with the teats located farthest away, working in towards those teats located closest to the milker. A second wipe, with pressure applied across teat ends will help to remove excess keratin buildup and aid in keeping teat ends clean.
Rory Lewandowski is an OSU Extension Agriculture & Natural Resources Educator and may be reached at 330-264-8722.
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