It is apparent when looking at your bottom line that managing udder health is a vital task on your dairy. If udder care is not a factor in your daily decisions, it could be costing you more than just the price of treatment – think about the time, facility space and labor it takes to manage the hospital pen. That is only considering the inputs that come with treating a cow for poor udder health. You must also consider milk production that could be lost as well. Don’t let managing udder health be an afterthought.

Trennepohl adrianne
Content Specialist / ABS Global

When focusing on udder health, you are also managing milk quality and production. The most important factor in ensuring better milk quality and increased milk production is cow comfort. Milk production is a product of a cow’s comfort in her environment, so it is not hard to believe that a cow that is comfortable in her environment will perform better. Maintaining cow comfort to promote better quality and production is exactly why udder health must be top-of-mind.

Two reasons udder health should be a top priority

While consumer trust, producing a quality and safe product, compliance with regulations and sustainability are all considered reasons to manage udder health, they are not the biggest. The two biggest reasons dairy producers should make udder health a top priority tie back to milk quality: disease prevention and increased production.

The first reason is to control mastitis, as it costs a dairy more than any other disease and is one of the costliest health issues in the industry. Mastitis puts your dairy at risk for lower production and milk inefficiencies, which ultimately impacts profitability. It is important to remember that insufficient germicidal effectiveness or improper cleaning can increase the risk of harmful bacteria being left behind, which can cause mastitis.

The second reason to manage udder care is teat health because healthy teat skin is a critical component of a cow’s own defense against mastitis. Dryness, cracking or chapping of teat skin can make a cow more susceptible to infection. Maintaining healthy teat skin will decrease your chances of infection, increase cow comfort and increase profitability through efficient milking. Well-conditioned teats mean healthy teats, which equates to better milk quality.


Different situations call for different udder care products

We have all heard the saying "one size fits all." Udder care is an exception to that rule. Different situations mean different udder care needs for a dairy. Every udder health program should be crafted based on individual weather climate, geographic location, environmental conditions, management practices, etc. Maintaining proper udder care on your dairy is all about using the right product at the right time.

As a dairy producer, you know you need a different product depending on the weather. But have you thought about the other situations on a dairy that impact milk quality regardless of season? Keep in mind, anything that negatively affects a cow’s udder or teat health or increases the number of cows in the mastitis pen will affect profitability. For example, a new type of bedding, bedding that is always wet, a lack of bedding or an equipment malfunction are just a few situations that influence the type of teat dip you should be using.

When you are faced with dirty, wet conditions, regardless of the time of year, or see cows with more organic load or dirt and manure on an udder, it is necessary to carefully consider product usage. Those tough situations are when improper udder care is most costly, as disease susceptibility increases by using a product not formulated to handle the condition at hand. Thus, developing a situational rotation plan for product usage based on what is happening on a dairy at a given time is ideal for maintaining proper udder health for the herd.

Tough situations call for tough products

The topic at hand is using the right products at the right time to keep udders and teats healthy. We know different situations call for different udder care needs and products to be used. Even among the various types of teat dips, there are different times when products should be used for maximizing effectiveness in terms of protection and cost.

Tough conditions are any time a cow is at increased risk for infection, and you know the wettest and coldest months present you with those challenges. It is during these times that you need a product you can rely on to get the job done in terms of cleaning prior to milking and protecting after. You need a product that will correct concerns before they become problems.

In these situations, it is best practice to invest in products that are true problem-solvers and repair udder health issues. Even with the cost investment in premium products, you will be miles ahead in cost savings from disease prevention and profitability via improved milk quality and production. However, as situations and conditions become more ideal, you can choose to maintain udder health by using a more economical product. It is key to be agile in your udder care plan to allow you to shift between products if issues begin to surface that would require a tougher teat dip.

Implement a situational rotation

Creating a situational rotation of products for your dairy might seem overwhelming, but it does not have to be. Work with your udder care specialist to understand the ins and outs of your dairy. Then identify the situations or conditions your dairy will experience throughout the year. Next, determine the products to use that will ensure maximum protection while keeping costs in check.

The last step in the process is to continuously monitor product usage to confirm the right products are being used at the right time. That is why it is key to have consultants who value working with you and your team to problem-solve issues on the farm if they arise.

Udder health is not something you can take your eye off because you have a plan in place. Having a plan is the first step in proper udder health management on a dairy – but remember, udder care is a task that needs to be managed continuously. That being said, there is just one question you need to ask yourself: Are you using the right product at the right time to increase milk production, protect yourself against costly diseases and maximize profitability?