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 Knowledge for the CommonWealth

Does Cold Weather Create Chapped Teats in Your Herd?

Dairy Pipeline: November 1997

by Jerry Jones
Extension Dairy Scientist, Milk Quality and Milking Management
Virginia Tech

Is this linked to new mastitis infections? Should you stop teat dipping during cold weather? Teat skin chapping can become a problem with the onset of cold windy weather. Chapping makes the teat more susceptible to Staphylococcus aureus infections. Research conducted by Dr. Larry Fox and colleagues at Washington State University indicated that teat dipping should be continued during cold windy days but they also suggested that certain practices can reduce the amount of chapping. Pre- and post-milking teat dips need to include skin conditioner (e.g., glycerin, lanolin), but no more than 10-14% because higher concentrations reduce bacterial killing activity. The same germicide probably should be used in both pre-dip and post-dip (e.g., iodine, chlorhexidine, etc.). Teats and udders can be dried more effectively with cloth towels. They found that udder salves and creams offer no advantage because they are more likely to support S. aureus colonization on teat skin than found with teat dips. Ointments did not improve teat skin condition to offset increased S. aureus colonization on teat skin and teat ends. In some cases, an iodophor teat dip caused more teat chapping and slower healing but S. aureus colonization was less. They suggest that no teat treatment was possibly a better milking strategy than application of the ointments that they tested. But that's not the best strategy. Instead, they recommend that postmilking teat dip should be used but that cows should not be turned outside until teat dip has dried for 1 minute and teats are blotted dry with a towel before exposure to cold windy conditions.

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