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Virginia Cooperative Extension - Knowledge for the CommonWealth

Cold weather mastitis prevention tips

Dairy Pipeline: January 2001

Gerald M. (Jerry) Jones
Extension Dairy Scientist
Milk Quality & Milking Management

Many parts of the U.S. have already been hit by cold temperatures. Cold weather can affect milk production and potential cases of mastitis. A few management practices that can help lactating cows offset these cold conditions are listed here. Start with the cow's environment. Offer them protection against drafts and cold winds. Provide access to clean, dry, and comfortable bedded areas. Use extra bedding to keep cows dry and clean. The cleaner and drier they are when they enter the milking center, the better. Whenever cows' teats and udders are dirty enough to require washing, it makes it harder to get them dry and increases the risk to frost-bite. Remove hair from udders by either clipping or singeing. Long hair makes them more prone to having wet and dirty udders. Milk cows at regularly scheduled intervals and use procedures that encourage them to let down their milk. Don't turn cows out into windy, drafty conditions as soon as teat dip has been applied. Let them stand in the milking area for a minute or two and then blot teats with a towel before turning them out. Feed rations which are formulated to supplement forages that are fed. Take into consideration requirements for protein, energy, vitamins, and minerals, including vitamins A, D, and E, the macrominerals calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, sulfur, etc., and also pay attention to such microminerals as selenium, zinc, and copper.

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