Singeing Udders

When temperatures drop cows start to grow thicker hair to protect them against the winter cold. This makes them sweat, and excessive hair growth on the udder and tail may also impair robot efficiency. Cows’ tails are usually shaved mechanically using a shaver. There are two options for removing hair from the udder: shaving or singeing (flame clipping).

Management, Cow health

Shaving or singeing?

Shaving udders is a time-consuming and sometimes tricky task. It can take a long time and as cows usually dislike the process, it causes them stress. An alternative is singeing, whereby a yellow, airless flame is used to singe the hair. Singeing takes less time but is just as unpleasant for cows (Wageningen University, 2006). Singeing clears the udder of hair within seconds. Lely advises removing hair from the udder systematically 6 to 8 times per year.

It is important that the job is done quickly and correctly, so here is some advice:

• The hairs should not be too long.
• It is best to carry out singeing in the treatment box.
• Make sure there is enough ventilation, so that the smell disperses quickly.
• Use the right equipment, to ensure you have the proper yellow flame. Remember, you are not there to BBQ the cow.

Preventive effect

A clean udder does not just improve robot efficiency; it also improves udder health. Long hairs on udders are an ideal breeding ground for bacteria which may lead to  mastitis. This is a particular risk in autumn and winter when the air and environment are humid and there are sharp fluctuations in temperature. Humidity increases the risk of overall pollution and bacterial contamination. Take preventive action, such as clean bedding and clean udders to ensure milk quality and udder health.