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Get the facts for a proper teat dip prescription

Keith Engel for Progressive Dairyman Published on 18 July 2017
teat dipping

A good doctor does not come up with a successful treatment or prevention plan without obtaining the facts to make a proper diagnosis. The same goes for your hygiene specialist in order to prescribe the teat dip to prevent mastitis on your dairy.

For your hygiene specialist to properly prescribe the right teat dip, they need facts first, then to correlate them and create a mastitis prevention plan that will help your dairy reduce and prevent mastitis challenges.

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Focus on prevention

For a cow to produce milk at her maximum potential, she must have a comfortable and clean environment with proper nutrition. Pre-dipping is an effective means of reducing intramammary infections due to environmental pathogens on the teat. Its role is to clean and remove the environment from the teat and to kill environmental mastitis-causing organisms. Disinfecting teats with an effective post-dip helps the teat close, provides emollients to protect and condition teats, protects against contagious mastitis and, in the case of barrier post-dips, shield against the environment.

Pre- and post-dips are meant as a preventative measure against mastitis issues. Continually switching teat dips during a high spike in mastitis or somatic cell count (SCC) is not an optimal approach. For best results, it is important to have both management protocols and a teat dip plan customized for your dairy.

Get the facts

To develop the most effective mastitis prevention plan for your herd, you need more information than the SCC and the number of cows in the hospital pen. Properly prescribing a teat dip plan begins with collecting the facts. Gathering insights into the causes behind milk quality issues on your farm will help your hygiene specialist build a customized teat dip plan directed at your specific challenges.

Culture results and taking a closer look at your management protocols allows your milk quality team to have a better understanding of where potential milk quality issues are coming from.

The reason for mastitis and high SCC is usually a combination of several factors, which may include cow and teat cleanliness, dip coverage, liner slips, parlor hygiene or environment. Digging deeper into the root cause of milk quality issues will help your hygiene specialist create a teat dip plan specific to your dairy.

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Work with your milk quality team to help gather the necessary information so they can troubleshoot and find trends to identify the root of the problem.

  • Review your DHIA records to determine new infections and high SCC cows.
  • Use culture results of your bulk tank, clinical cases of mastitis, udder towels and bedding.
  • Evaluate the status of your herd’s teat skin condition.
  • Ensure milking equipment parameters are set properly.

Correlating all of the gathered culture information with your milk quality team will help them find the trend of the most predominant mastitis-causing organisms. These trends will identify the target areas to try to minimize bacteria in your cows’ environment and sharing the information will get the right teat dip prescribed to fight against the predominant mastitis-causing organisms.

Tracking success and sticking to your plan

Setting milk quality goals on your dairy will provide clear insights about what is working well and what areas need improvement. Your hygiene specialist can help you monitor these goals to quickly adjust your plan when challenges arise.

But remember, change won’t happen overnight. Changes in skin conditioning can happen relatively quickly. But to see consistent changes in the trend of your SCC and cases of mastitis, it is going to take at least three to four weeks. For this reason, it is a great idea to use a new teat dip for 90 days before making additional changes. This will ensure adequate time to realize the effectiveness of the teat dip plan and to make any additional management changes to help reduce milk quality issues.

It’s all about teamwork

Developing an effective teat dip plan customized to your dairy is truly a team effort between you and your milk quality team. With a well-informed team, the right management protocols and an effective teat dip plan in place, you can be confident your dairy will produce high-quality milk.

Work with your hygiene specialist to gather information and set milk quality goals to develop a teat dip plan that works for you.  end mark

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Keith Engel
  • Keith Engel

  • Dairy Farm Hygiene and Supplies Specialist
  • GEA
  • Email Keith Engel

PHOTO: Finding the root cause of milk quality issues will help you develop a teat dip plan for your dairy. Photo provided by GEA.

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