Teat health is very important for cows year-round. As the weather turns colder, it is important to remain diligent with preventative measures such as checking cow teats for early signs of possible problems. Temperatures don’t have to be below zero for teats to crack and have issues. Below are three major factors that can influence the production of your herd.
Preconditioning and Post-Dip
The majority of farms utilize a preconditioner, post-dip, or some combination of both. Preconditioning dips should disinfect and also condition the teat, keeping skin smooth to reduce irritation and trauma during the milking process. There are a variety of different post-dips, powders, and salves that are geared toward cold weather use that all have benefits and negatives to them. Take the time to research which option would be the best fit for your milking operation. If choosing a post-dip, leave on for about 30 seconds and then gently dry off so the cow’s teats don’t get cold.
Equipment and Milking
Equipment should be regularly maintained and routinely looked over to ensure no parts are wearing or damaged. Be sure vacuum settings on machines are accurate to reduce teat stress as much as possible. The milking procedure should be as quick and efficient as possible. Milkers should be educated in teat health and how to properly clean, dip, maintain, and milk cows.
Weather certainly plays a factor in teat health. Cows are able to withstand low temperatures, but wind chills against wet teats after milking can make a cow uncomfortable. Exposure to the weather and elements should be limited as much as possible. Keep feed and cows indoors if that is possible for your operation. Windbreaks or curtains should be used to avoid drafts from entering the barn and to control humidity.