Mastitis Tip of the Month -- Flaming Haircuts for Udders
Dairy Pipeline: February 2000
Gerald M. (Jerry) Jones
Extension Dairy Scientist, Milk Quality and Milking Management
The hair on cows' udders need to be kept short. Short hair is easier to keep clean and dry. The end results include: Easier to prep cows for milking and takes less time, somatic cell counts are lower and less mastitis, better milk quality because of lower bacteria and coliform counts. Long hair is difficult to clean and dry and wet teats are often milked. Many herds are finding it easier and faster to burn the hair on the udder rather than clip. Using a propane torch to singe the hair off is quick and painless. When done correctly, burning the teats and udder doesn't occur. We have done it four years in our herd. Rub loose sawdust, dirt, and manure off the udder. Slowly pass the flame 6 to 8 inches below the udder. Wear a cotton or leather glove on one hand to wipe off the black singed hair tips or to put out any flareups. Quickly pass the flame between the rear legs and along each side of the udder to singe the hair. Singe again if necessary. Do this in an area where there are no flammable materials such as bedding (shavings, straw, paper, etc.), hay, or other combustible materials. You can purchase a commercial unit or make one from a hand-held propane torch but you will need a tank, a rubber hose, a regulator, and a metal neck and tip. The tip should be flattened and all air holes in the neck and tip must be taped shut to give a cool, yellow flame rather than a hot, blue one. A commercial unit has a long hose and a burner wide enough to cover the entire udder floor with one pass.