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Dairy Pipeline: June 1998

G. M. Jones
Extension Dairy Scientist, Milk Quality and Milking Management
Virginia Tech
(540) 231-476; email:

What does clean mean? According to my trusty ole Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, clean is "unsoiled." It's also "free from whatever sullies or defiles; pure." It defines defiles as "to make filthy; to befoul. To make unceremonially unclean; to pollute." If it was a ship, clean would mean "having the bottom not fouled." I'm concerned that too many dairy farms have taken the wrong approach to predipping as to what is acceptable and what is not. The National Mastitis Council has said that producers "may elect to use predipping instead of washing when preparing cows for milking. Predipping works best when teats are relatively clean. The entire length of the teat should be immersed in the sanitizer. Predip should remain in contact with the teat for 30 seconds and then be thoroughly wiped-off prior to attaching the milking unit." NMC has also said "teats should be clean and dry prior to attaching the milking unit." My point is that too many dairy herds are sacrificing cleanliness for convenience. Cleanliness really starts outside the milking parlor with conditions where cows lie and chew their cud. When cows enter the parlor with reasonably clean teats, they are easier to wash and dry. My point also is that you can't stick a filthy, manure coated teat in predip and expect it to be sparkling clean unless effort is used to cleanse the teat. This doesn't mean that you have to go back to spraying water all over the udder and have the potential for "wet cow" milking. I advise dairy herds to use a paper or cloth towel which has been wet in sanitizing solution for washing teats, followed by predipping, and then dried with single service cloth or paper towels.

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