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Carrying out vital checks

WE use the California Milk Test (CMT), together with the ICBF problem cow report, to target sample-infected quarters, where the high SCC cow reacts to the CMT with a viscous drip.

Avoiding faecal contamination of the milk sample is not easy. We elect to swab the teat top and sample the second or third forestrip at 45 degrees into a sterile container.

This is a great time to assess cow teats and udder, to assess cleanliness or if there is evidence of any unwanted teat damage or lesions. Picture A (below left) shows a perfect teat end, whereas Pic D (below right) shows teats that have been chronically overmilked and the teat end dangly bits, or 'fronds', are evidence that excessive and prolonged vacuuming has damaged and almost sucked the teat sphincter inside out.

The knock-on effect is obvious where a damaged teat sphincter is no longer an efficient barrier between the teat canal and the outside world. This flittered teat end muscle also provides a colony for bugs as an opportunity for free bacterial entry.

In essence, teat-end scoring provides a tool for historical analysis of machine function, ie excessive teat-end damage provides evidence of long-term machine and liner abuse towards cow teats.

The cleanliness of the udder and hind legs also tell a story:

  • How high is the cubicle step?
  • Are the cubicles of correct design?
  • What, and how much, bedding material is used?
  • How good is the cow shed ventilation?
  • Is there excessive lameness in the herd?
  • Does the nutritionist need to sort out loose faeces in the herd?

Irish Independent