More than just an inconvenience, winter can create health and sanitation problems that can threaten overall productivity. With bitter cold around the corner, be sure to prepare for all its challenges.
A comprehensive farm management program should be put in place long before the first snowflake falls. Though premium solutions, such as top-of-the-line teat dips, are essential during this time of the year, your management expertise will make all the difference.
Put the Plan Together
Winter conditions can irritate the teat skin and can range from mild chapping to severe frostbite. Chapped and cracked skin is the ideal breeding ground for mastitis causing pathogens, so extra care is needed to keep teats soft and avoid a decrease in productivity. The right teat dip is a good start, but there are other items to keep in mind:
• Pay attention to the milking routine and adjust take-offs before the onset of fall. Milking machine on-time with little or no milk flow is a primary cause of teat end rings and sore teat ends.
• Protect cows from the wind and provide effective shelter with dry, clean bedding materials to help ensure cow comfort.
• Always spray teats since omitting this step does not guarantee dry teats. Regardless of the actions you take, even a thin milk film can lead to frostbite. Also, when severe cold combines with strong winds, teats may get frostbitten even if they are dry. There is a greater danger of exposing the herd to bacteria than there is of frostbite, so never disregard this step.
• Pay attention to the wind chill index as it is your best guide for preventing frostbite. Any time the wind chill ranges between 0°F and -25°F, frostbite is a possibility.
Germicides and moisturizers are essential to help promote healthy teats and prevent mastitis, but in winter they become even more crucial. Cold temperatures do not kill bacteria that reside in the bedding. A cow lying in the stall will warm the floor to slightly below her body temperature which provides an ideal climate for pathogens.
To help keep your herd healthy and productive, make sure you select a premium teat dip with proven germicidal efficacy of 99.999% or greater and excellent emollients. Let us help you find one which is designed to work with your VMS milking robot.