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What do experts have to say about teat dips and the surrounding research?

Did you know that improvements on teat coverage and on application methods can result in important savings? Here are some interesting findings from the trials presented at the National Mastitis Congress (NMC) regarding teat dip evaluation. 

Carousel milking parlour

Some of the important aspects in the teat dip evaluation (registration and research) should trickle down into our selection criteria at farm level to ensure that we are asking the right questions to the manufacturers and sales teams.

The National Mastitis Congress (NMC) data base has the following points of interest:

  • Trials need to have selection parameters for farm, cows, and teat dip evaluation to avoid bias or error (Nickerson, S.C., et. al., 2004).

  • A very important aspect of the pre-milking routine is to achieve a good udder/teat dryness at the point of machine attachment (Galton et al. 1982; Ingawa et al. 1992; Visser et al. 2007). The use of wipes/towels is particularly useful in the disinfection process with teat dips.

  • Natural exposure and experimental challenge teat dip efficacy trials are conducted to evaluate and identify factors influencing the rate of new intramamary infections (IMI).

    Some data might be biased by the method of testing the teat dip (herd vs udder split) and it was noted that split herd experiments has a twofold higher new IMI rate when compared to the split udder experiments as a result of a semi protection of the non-dipped teats by the teat dip.

    So much so that the experimental design had a bigger influence on the rate of new IMI (Staph. aureus and Strep. agalactiae) than the active being tested in the teat dip efficacy trials. (Enger, B.D., et al., 2015).

An evaluation of the management variables such as the application method and teat coverage is very important, and can result in savings on wastage meaning that a better product can be used.

teat dips machine

Udder hygiene is a basic step for a optimal milking

  • A large percent of the new IMIs were reported to occur in cows with at least one already infected quarter, indicating that the majority of new IMI cases are the result of infection (occurring during milking) from one quarter to another in the same animal or a repeat with in the same quarter.

  • Concentration and even the active ingredient are not good predictors of efficacy, because other factors might have more of an influence e.g. Quarters dipped in iodine, chlorine compounds, or “other” teat dips did not differ in new IMI rate (P > 0.05).

  • Multiple strains of bacteria should be used when challenging teat dips to avoid biased results. (Enger, B.D., et al., 2015).

  • Teat dip application can save you money and allow for you to use a more adequate product to be used: Foam agent (2,4 ml min to 23,6 ml max per use); Dip cup (4.44 ml min. to 118 ml max. per use); spray (8,9 ml min to 147,9 ml max per use) (Watters, R., 2011).

  • Resistance problems caused by the under concentration does not appear to cause resistance as has been seen to occur in antibiotics (Böhm, F. et al., 2017).

The take home message: more questions need to be asked and the research needs to be provided by the manufacturers, as price is not everything when it comes to selecting a product.

The aim is to increase the efficiency of the parlour by ensuring that the correct teat dips are used to firstly clean the teat of organic matter quickly, secondly reduce the bacterial load and finally aid in maintaining a good teat condition (physical barriers) to reduce and prevent the occurrence of new intramammary infections.


Dr Grant van Lelyveld

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  1. Gabriel Ruiz

    Cada año deberían de publicar evaluación de productos Para. Predipping y postdipping

    1. Paula Villora

      Completamente de acuerdo, ¡gracias por tu comentario!

    2. Paula Villora

      ¡Completamente de acuerdo contigo Gabriel!
      Saludos y gracias por dejarnos tu comentario.

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