Udder health is of major importance to milk production, cow welfare and farmer working pleasure. Basically, every case of mastitis occurs due to bacteria that enter the udder via the teat sphincter and teat canal. The teat canal and the teat sphincter are the first and most important line of defence. On a teat where the skin is strong, smooth and flexible, bacteria have the least chance of finding a home. In this article you will find some practical tips for keeping cows’ teats in perfect shape.
Management, Cow health, Milking
It all starts with having the right milk settings and liners during milking, as milking puts quite a lot of mechanical force on the teat. Remember, on average 60 pulses per minute for 5 minutes for 2.5 milkings per day equals 750 squeezes per day!
The skin is a natural barrier that protects the body against external intruders. For this purpose, the surface of the skin has a protective acid mantle with a pH of about 5.5. It takes a certain amount of effort to get or to keep the skin in good shape. Therefore, good udder-care products also have to be rich in care ingredients for recovery of the skin.
So, teat spraying after milking has two functions: disinfection and care. Product ranges vary from strongly disinfectant to very gentle and caring. The active ingredient reduces microorganisms on the teat (for example iodine, lactic acid). Products are selected on the grounds of applicability, effectiveness, skin tolerance, market demands (product availability varies per region) and having been specially designed for use with a Lely Astronaut milking robot.
Based on the farm’s situation (environmental bacterial or cow-related bacterial mastitis) and the visual teat-end quality score for at least twenty cows per robot, while taking different lactation stages into account, you can choose the product that fits your needs.
Once you have chosen the teat dip that best fits your situation, of course you want to make sure it is applied properly to the udder. Therefore, make sure that spray settings, such as pressure and duration, fit with the teat dip (for help check with your local Lely advisor). In addition, the pattern of the spray can be checked to see if it creates a nice conical spray shape. Furthermore, it is possible to scan for the teat coordinates automatically before you spray (Astronaut A5), for example if the udder shape is changing greatly or when the cow is moving. Another tip is to set a spray to follow a failed milking.
Please do not forget: for the first 2 - 15 minutes after milking, the teat sphincter is open. Therefore, make sure that after a milking the cow enters a relatively clean and udder-friendly environment. This means that the floor is scraped and the cubicles are clean and dry with a good quality of lime or other bedding materials.
In conclusion, the first line of defence - the teat canal and the teat sphincter - is very important in udder care. Therefore, it is important to keep it in very good condition by using the right udder-care products and achieving the right milk settings. Ask your local advisor about what is possible and available in your area*.