Keep lactating cows adequately fed and not directly exposed to winds in housing that’s dry, free of manure with ample bedding daily. So suggests Alvaro Garcia in working with dairy cows in extremely cold temperatures.

Frostbite can cause teat skin chapping in lactating cows during such weather, says Garcia, South Dakota State University Extension dairy specialist. Chapping makes the teat more susceptible to bacterial infections, particularly staphylococcus.

“Mastitis is a possible outcome, and the cows affected will have to be monitored closely,” he warns. “If injury has already occurred, skin chapping and loss of at least the teat end is likely. When the teat end is damaged, the sphincter that closes the teat canal is also non-functional, predisposing the quarter to bacterial invasion.”

Teat dipping should be continued during cold windy days, according to recent research Pre- and post-milking teat dips should include skin conditioners like glycerin and lanolin.

Producers should carefully dry teats and udders. Cows should not be turned outside on cold and windy days until the teat dip has dried for one minute. Cold weather guidelines from the National Mastitis Council include:

•   Warm teat dip to reduce drying time.

•   Dip just the teat end in very cold weather.

•   Blot off any excess teat dip with a single-use paper towel.

•   Make sure teats are dry before turning cows out of the barn..

•   Provide windbreaks in outside holding areas for protection.

•   Be extra careful with fresh cows with swollen udders; they’re more susceptible to chapping.

"Always remember that prevention is the key," Garcia says.

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