Winter strategies to protect cows' teats to produce quality milk

Published: Jan. 9, 2020 at 5:14 PM CST
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The winter can have a negative effect on our bodies. The same goes for animals. For cows, there is a danger to the teats. The teat is an extremity and anatomically in the coldest place on the cow’s body. You can think of it the same way as you do your fingertips.

Heather Schlesser from UW-Madison Division of Extension, joined NewsChannel 7 at Noon on Thursday. She said there are ways to help minimize cracking of teats. Feed and house indoors where possible, avoid drafts and humidity, avoid direct wind chills post-milking if possible, and remember that even the best machine is an irritant and stressor to the cow. Because of that, you want to maximize letdown and avoid over-milking.

“Those cracks and crevices can create little homes for bacteria that cause udder infection or mastitis,” she said. Those increase the white blood cell count within there, which causes an effect ultimately, if we end up with cases of mastitis.”

If cracking does occur, Schlesser said to keep the teat disinfected, healthy and soft and minimize secondary bacterial infections. But, she said, don’t use salves, which can help breed bacteria.

Using winter post-dips with extra skin conditioners helps maintain soft and pliable skin and healthy teat ends. For the best winter teat dip, also find one with germicide. There are winter dip options.

- Normal lactating cow dips: 5-10% conditioners

- Barrier dips: require 20 minutes to dry and also tend to be harder to get off at the end of the winter

- Winter dips: use in cold temps only