An unhealthy teat shows up in a variety of ways including dry skin and cracks, hyperkeratosis, swelling, haemorrhaging, colour changes, open orifices at the end of milking and the presence of infectious lesions such as warts and pseudo-cowpox. Dry skin, cracks and infectious lesions from pseudo-cowpox can increase the risk of mastitis by increasing the number of bacteria present at the teat-end during and after milking. Swelling, haemorrhages, colour changes and open teat ends can increase the risk of mastitis by affecting the ability of the teat sphincter to close following milking. Hyperkeratosis and warts in the wrong place can affect the integrity of the teat end and harbour bacteria close to the teat orifice increasing the risk of mastitis.
Each of these changes is associated with how we interact with cows during milking and while they are in the shed. If we can identify the interactions that put our cows at risk of mastitis, we can modify these and help prevent bacteria from entering the udder.
Teat scoring provides an efficient way of determining the teat health of your herd and which interactions are most risky for mastitis. Then you can do something about those interactions to reduce mastitis.
Teat scoring involves a vet or vet-tech visiting during an afternoon milking and scoring the teats of cows after the cups come off. About 80 cows are scored at a screening visit and the scores are summarised in real-time with the assistance of software so that you understand the risks present at the end of the scoring session. This season as part of our “we are here to help” initiative we will provide a complimentary teat scoring assessment in late October through early December for those who would like one. Contact your local clinic for details.
Dr David Hawkins BVSc