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Virginia Cooperative Extension - Knowledge for the CommonWealth

Examine teats before and after milking

Dairy Pipeline: March 2001

Gerald M. Jones
Professor & Extension Dairy Scientist,
Milk Quality & Milking Management
(540) 231-4764

Prior to applying milking units, but after teats have been prepped for milking, teats and teat ends should be observed to be sure that they are clean and dry. In some cases, teats may not be as clean as they should be and should be worked on some more. This may be a primary source of mastitis outbreaks caused by environmental pathogens such as E. coli. The bacterial infection may originate from a wet and dirty environment such as what we might experience in March or April or freestalls or loose housing areas that are wet and dirty and that need some attention. Also examine teats again after milking. Have there been any changes in teat ends? Do you find many with lesions, hemorrhages, or abnormalities (enlargement, eversions, or erosions) of the teat end orifice? The sphincter muscle in the teat end should close within the first hour after milking. That's one reason why it is recommended that cows should be kept from lying down immediately after milking. If the teat end has been injured (stepped on, everted, irritated, etc.), it may not effectively prevent pathogens from entering the teat canal and causing a mastitis infection. Some causes of teat end injury during milking include: excessive milking vacuum or other machine problems (pulsation), overmilking, or improper milk letdown. The presence of a callous or smooth ring around the teat end has not been associated with development of mastitis infections. Examination of teat ends should be done regularly.

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