Q: What are some guidelines for good udder prep?

A: The goal of good udder prep is to give adequate teat stimulation to maximize oxytocin release for efficient milk let-down, speed and milk out.  The following are some general ideas to consider when putting together your udder prep protocol.

Strip—This step can be done before or after cows are dipped.  Mastitis can be detected by stripping each quarter. Milk should never be stripped into the hand because this spreads organisms from teat to teat and from cow to cow.  Milkers should always wear clean gloves while milking. Gloves can be cleaned periodically during milking by washing them with warm water and sanitizer.

Dip—Pre-dip should remain in contact with the teat for 20 to 30 seconds.    

Dry—Complete cleaning and drying with individual towels can reduce bacterial populations on teat surfaces by 75 percent.  Make sure the teat and the teat end are wiped clean and dry.  

Each towel should be laundered, sanitized and dried after each milking.  Washing teats without thorough drying leaves many organisms on the teats.  If teats are not dried, water which contains mastitis-causing organisms can drip down and be pulled into teat cups, exposing teat ends to bacteria.  Milking wet teats increases the chance of mastitis and reduces overall milk quality.

Apply—The ideal lag time from the start of udder stimulation to unit attachment is 60 seconds, with a maximum of two minutes.

Tips to remember:

  • Wear gloves during milking.
  • The contact time for dip should be 20 to 30 seconds.
  • Use clean and dry towels—The containers that the towels are stored in need to be clean as well.
  • Teat dip cups should be clean, when dip gets cloudy or contaminated with excess bedding or manure, discard the teat dip, clean the dip cup and refill with fresh dip.
  • The time from the start of udder prep to attachment of units should be between 60 and 120 seconds.
  • Have a consistent protocol that is posted for everyone to read and follow.
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