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Prevention Of Mastitis With Good Milking Procedures

20 March 2010

Dr Syed Hasan Raza, an animal nutrition expert from Punjab, Pakistan dicusses how good milking procedures can reduce and prevent incidences of mastitis.

Provide cows with a clean, stress-free environment

Dr Raza says that milking time should be a consistent routine, so that the cow is neigher frightened nor excited before milking. Cows which undergo more stress will secrete epinephrine into the blood stream which interferes with the normal milk production.

He recommends that udders should be clipped or singed as necessary so as to remove long hair and reduce the amount of dirt, bedding and manure which may contaminate the milk.

Stockmen should ensure that their hands are washed and dried prior to milking so as to reduce contamination. Dr Raza suggests washing hands/ gloves between milking each herd.

Check the foremilk and udder for mastitis

Strip cups and plates should be cleaned and sanitised after each milking to prevent the spread of mastitis organisms. Dr Raza says that stripping of milk directly onto the floor, followed by immediate hosing of the floor surface should be done to minimise the spread of bacteria.

He warns against stripping milk directly into the milkers hand because this procedure spreads microorganisms from teat to teat and cow to cow via contaminated hands.

In large dairy herds, milking facilities may be equipped with sprinkler pens where 80 to 120 cows are group washed. After providing them sufficient drip-drying time before cows enter the milking parlor their teats and udders be completely dried.

Use a pre-milking teat dip

Pre-milking teat dip reduces infections with environmental microorganism by about 50 per cent. Recommended pre-dipping procedures are as follows: clean teats, forestrip predip teats and allow recommended contact time (usually 20-30 seconds), dry teats with an individual paper towel to remove germicide residues and attach milking units.

Pre-dipping is sometimes done without prior washing of the dirty teats, and germicide is often placed on top of manure and dirt present on teat skin,l says Dr Raza. This practice is not likely to reduce incidence of mastitis and somatic cell count, and will probably reduce milk quality. Manure and dirt must be removed to get full benefits of predipping.

Dry teats thoroughly

The milking of wet teats also promotes squawking of the teat cup liners, which may result in teat end impact.

Attact teat-cups within one minute

Dr Raza says that attachment of teat cups should be done carefully to prevent the entrance of excessive air into the milking system.

Maximum internal udder pressure is reached approximately one minute after udder preparation is begun and lasts for about five minutes. Since the majority of cows will milk out in four to six minutes, the consistent attachment of teat cups one minute after the beginning of stimulation makes maximum use of milk let-down hormone oxytocin.

Adjust milking units as necesaary

Teat cups that are seated excessively high on teats cause irritation to the lining of the teat and may contribute to the development of mastitis. Improperly aligned milking units may also block milk flow, increase strippings and slip more often advises Dr Raza.

It is important that slipping or squawking of teat cups be minimised because such occurrences probably contribute to more machine-induced infections than any other single factor.

If liner slips occur at the same time as the liner opens, tiny droplets of milk may be propelled against the end of the teat at very high velocity. Such droplets may contain mastitis-causing microorganisms and may penetrate the teat canal. Since milk flow slows near the end of milking the chances of the microorganisms being flushed out of the teat are reduced and an infection of the quarter may result, he says.

Shut off vacuum before removing teat cups

The goal should be to remove teat cups just as the last quarter milks out, but vacuum should always be shut off before teat cups are removed, advises Dr Raza. An increased risk of infection exists when teat cups are removed while under vacuum.

Dip teats with a safe and effective teat dip

Teat dips in addition to killing all microorganisms on teats reduce teat canal colonization and help to heal teat cup lesions. The list of teat-dip germicides includes iodophores, chlorohexidines, linear dodecyle benzene sulfonic acid (LDBSA), sodium hypochlorite, sodium chlorite/lactic or mandelic acid, hypochlorous acid, quaternary ammonium and antimicrobial proteins and fatty acids.

Only products shown by research to be safe and effective should be used. This involves using a product registered with the FDA or concerned regulatory authorities, says Dr Raza.

Problems related to teat dips

Some teat dip germicides may cause harmful effects on teat skin and cause chapping. The irritation might be due to low or high pH or high titratable acidity or alkalinity or a formulation. Because of the potential for irradiation, skin-conditioning agents often are added to teat-dope formulations. Glycerin is an example of humectants, a substance that promotes the retention of moisture. Emollients, substances that soften and smooth the skin also are found in dips; linolin is a popular choice and coats the skin and reduces evaporative water loss. The only difficulty is that germicidal activity of teat dips may be reduced if concentrations of humectants and emollients become too high above 10 or 12 per cent of the total dip.

Normal teat skin is coated with bacteria static acids that retard the bacterial growth. When exposed to cold, wet and windy conditions, teat skin may become chapped and irritated. Also protective surface coating may be removed, allowing bacterial growth on teat skin.

March 2010

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