We have so much to be grateful for thanks to cows, including delicious milk! To keep your cows healthy and reduce the risk of milk contamination, it’s important to care for and protect your cow’s udders.
Taking Care of Your Cow’s Udders: 4 Tips
A cow’s udders are one of the most important parts of their bodies. They produce milk and help feed their young. Therefore, it’s important to take care of them and make sure they are clean and healthy. Here are some tips to help!
Clean the Udders Before Milking
The first thing you should do is always clean your cow’s udders before milking. Cleaning a cow’s udders doesn’t have to be a complicated process, either. Some farmers just recommend using a clean cloth or paper towel and wiping them with a cleanser like Vetericyn Utility Spray–a safe and non-toxic alternative.
After rinsing your cow’s udders, make sure to dry them thoroughly and wash and disinfect your hands. Drying the udders helps reduce the risk of contaminated water leaking into the teat cups.
Use a Pre-Milk and Post-Milk Sanitation Dip
Another great way to keep your cow’s udders clean is to sanitize them both before and after milking. Sanitizing before decreases the risk of contamination between the teats and the milking machines (or your hands). Look for a pre-dip sanitizer that can treat environmental bacteria such as:
- Streptococcus uberis
- Escherichia coli
- Klebsiella pneumoniae
Usually, you use these pre-dip sanitizers after rinsing the teats in the first step, but before milking. After milking, you can use a post-milking antiseptic. These antiseptics help reduce the risk of mastitis because they reduce the rate of infections, and they help clean, disinfect, and seal the teat opening. Some people might prefer a spray, but a tip can be more comprehensive and cover the teat surface better. Remember, sanitation is also important when you perform a naval dip on calves.
Reduce the Risk of Injury
A cow’s udders are prone to injury due to their size and placement. Therefore it’s important to limit the risk of injury as much as possible. Their teats can be injured on milking machines, by their own hooves and bumping them on their barn.
One way to prevent these injuries is to provide your cow with a soft, clean place to stay. You should also keep their hooves trimmed to minimize the risk of scratching the udders. If your cow does injure their udders, treat the wound quickly and carefully by applying direct pressure. You can use an antimicrobial gel to speed up healing and reduce the risk of infection.
Monitor Udder Health
The most important thing you can do to protect your cow’s udders is to monitor them for health issues regularly. A few of the most common things to look out for when examining your cow include:
- Mastitis – Mastitis is the infection of the mammary glands and is likely the most common udder issue you might face. To help prevent mastitis, follow the tips above and also make sure your cows are stored in a clean, dry area away from any mud or moisture. This is especially important during the winter. Make sure you provide your cows with a well-maintained pasture or clean, well-bedded barn.
- Blocked Teats – Blocked teats can occur for a variety of reasons and result in limited or no milk production. They can be caused by mastitis, injury, or genetics.
- Udder Sores – Udder sores are common wounds that can be caused when bacteria and moisture get trapped between the two halves of the udder. This can cause skin issues, sores, or fungal infections. This is especially common for the first three months after birthing. This increase in bacteria can then lead to mastitis, as we mentioned above. To help prevent udder sores, keep your cow’s area clean and try. Make sure to monitor their teats regularly and treat any infection as soon as possible. Your vet may prescribe a topical treatment.
- Frozen Teats – If you live somewhere cold, frozen teats are a legitimate concern. This happens when a cow’s teats freeze during the weeks before birthing. It presents itself like a burn and results in extremely sensitive skin and a scab forms. Because of this, your cow will likely not want to be milked or nursed. In addition, the scab can harbor bacteria, which can turn into a larger issue. To prevent this, monitor your cow’s udders before they are due to give birth and look for any tissue or skin damage. Also, keep your cow in a warm, dry place with deep, soft bedding.
Udder health is extremely important for milk production, your cow’s overall health, and your herd’s future. Make sure to pay attention and take care of your cow’s udders by cleaning them regularly, sanitizing them before and after milking, reducing the risk of injuries, and monitoring their health.