Maintaining Udder Health: How it is done at Utah State University

Dr. Douglas Hammon, D.V.M.
USU Head Veterinary Clinician

The following are the procedures USU uses to maintain herd udder health and mastitis surveillance at the Caine Dairy.

  1. Milking procedures should follow an established milking time hygiene protocol that emphasizes minimal use of water to prep cows, the use of single-use towels to wipe cows, the use of gloves for milker's hands, fore-stripping of milk, and the use of proven effective pre- and post-dips. The objective is to milk clean cows and to provide a sterile barrier between cows during the milking procedure.
  2. Milking cows should be housed in a clean, dry, comfortable environment (preferably freestalls) using inorganic bedding (preferably clean sand) which should be cleaned and raked flat (to avoid low urine pooling) twice daily. The objective is to minimize bacterial challenge to the teat end.
  3. Far-off dry cows should be housed in a clean, dry, comfortable environment.
  4. Pens or housing for close-up dry cows should be cleaned of manure and wet bedding every day to prevent or minimize bacterial challenge to the teat end during this period of high risk for new intramammary infections.
  5. Cows should be clean and the hair on the udder removed upon entrance to the maternity area to reduce manure adherence to the udder.
  6. Cows should be vaccinated with an E. coli J-5 variant strain vaccine per manufacturer's instructions.
  7. Lactating cows should have fresh feed and water available upon returning from the milking parlor in order to encourage them to stand until the teat sphincter closes.
  8. Milk cultures should be performed on all new clinical mastitis cases to identify contagious mastitis pathogens in the herd.
  9. Bulk milk should be cultured (weekly, biweekly, or monthly) to identify mastitis-causing pathogens in the herd and to assess milking-time hygiene.
  10. Milk cultures should be performed on all purchased lactating cows upon arrival and on all purchased heifers at freshening.

- From Western Dairy Business, April 2000, pg. 12.