Making changes in the farm dairy around udder hygiene, teat care products and teat spraying practices can make a difference to general udder health and reduce exposure to the pathogens which cause mastitis.

Up to 40% of farm dairies have poor teat-spraying coverage, leading to increased mastitis issues, GEA FIL national sales manager Colin May says.

“With both automatic teat sprayers and manual teat spraying – 30-40% of the time the spraying is not being done well. It’s a big area farmers can improve on and it’s something they’ve got to keep monitoring.

“As we move toward reducing antibiotics on farms, we have got to look at our practices in the dairy to reduce the risk of mastitis.”

DairyNZ research shows teat-spraying helps reduce new mastitis cases by 50%, by reducing bacteria on teats and improving teat condition.

A high-quality teat conditioner is a key ingredient to helping keep teats supple. A teat conditioner works to provide extra hydration and conditioning to teats, particularly at high risk times during the season.

‘NZ really needs some new teat spray actives. We only use iodine and chlorhexidine – which is a controlled substance globally.’

Cold, wet and muddy conditions strip the protective natural oils from a cow’s skin, which causes teats to harden and thicken, causing drying and chapping of the teat itself.

This often results in cracks and teat sores which are painful, making cows uncomfortable during milking – so they often kick and stomp, plus milk let-down will likely be poor.

During these periods it is important there is additional emollient to teat sanitisers, to help improve teat condition.

“When a cow is milked her teat expands by 50%, the teat is stretched and good teat condition is critical for cow comfort, and for teats to maintain that elasticity,” Colin says.

GEA’s new FIL Active Teat Conditioner is made up of high quality skin care ingredients, including aloe vera, manuka honey and allantoin, to help provide that extra hydration to teats.

Allantoin is an active moisturising ingredient that helps promote restoration of the skin and has been commonly used in women’s skin care products for years.

The GEA iPUD ensures the cow’s stance is correct for teat spraying.

Aloe vera has several well-known properties that help rejuvenate a variety of skin conditions. It acts as a moisturiser, and includes antioxidants and vitamins including Vitamin C and E that help improve the skin’s natural firmness and keep the skin hydrated.

Aloe vera is also known for its qualities to treat wounds, burns and skin infections.

Manuka honey is well known for its anti-inflammatory properties. It also absorbs moisture from the air and holds it against the skin which helps keen skin hydrated. This provides an optimum environment for skin repair and regeneration.

GEA has used manuka honey in several of its products, but this is the first product to include aloe vera and allantoin.

“We are quite excited about it with the results we’ve seen so far,” Colin says.

New Zealand companies have to keep innovating and branching out when it comes to using new ingredients in products like teat conditioner and teat sprays, Colin says.

“There is quite a change coming as we move to reducing antibiotics, we have got to really look at our products and our practices in the dairy.

“We need NZ companies to keep innovating and looking for other actives.

“NZ really needs some new teat spray actives. We only use iodine and chlorhexidine – which is a controlled substance globally.”

Education around best practice for teat spraying in the farm dairy has become a priority for GEA’s FIL area managers, Colin says.

“About five years ago we identified the need to offer more education about using our products. We used to sell our teat spray and go back and farmers would tell us it didn’t work. But the reality was it wasn’t getting mixed correctly, or it wasn’t being applied properly – that was what was letting it down.”

Farmers spend a lot of money on teat spray products so they need to make sure they’re getting good coverage so the product can do its job, he says.

Since then GEA’s FIL area managers have stepped into the space of offering more onfarm advice and education. The FIL area managers offer training sessions and training manuals to farm staff to help them increase their knowledge and skills, they have even translated the training material to accommodate the increased number of Filipino staff.

When it comes to reducing the spread of pathogens in the farm dairy, general hygiene practices must also be on point, Colin says.

Farms have grown, the average herd size has gone up and the number of staff on farms has increased. Some farmers are aware changes are coming and early adopters are embracing higher hygiene practices.

It’s important every milk harvester is wearing gloves, washing their hands between handling infected cows, mixing the teat spray correctly and applying teat sprays accurately.

“When some farmers strip a herd to look for mastitis, their somatic cell count will go up because they’re contaminating the herd with what they’re looking for.”

GEA is launching the new FIL Active Teat Conditioner in April. A limited quantity is to be sold in pink drums with proceeds from each drum sold going to support the NZ Breast Cancer Foundation. To order speak to your GEA FIL area manager or phone 0508 434 569.

Cluster Rinse

Another big part of reducing the risk of exposure to mastitis in the dairy is preventing passing on pathogens between cows.

During the milking process mastitis pathogens can be transferred from cow-to-cow through the cluster, a staph-infected cow can pass on pathogens to the following six cows. GEA’s Cluster Rinse reduces the spread of pathogens through automatic rinsing between each cow being milked, without any interruption to the milking routine.

When the cups are removed the Cluster Rinse automatically back flushes the milk tube and cluster with a sanitising solution of water and peracetic acid. Following the sanitisation process the cycle then includes a rinse of potable water with bursts of air creating turbulence inside the teat cups and bowl of the milking unit, this step will flush out any residue, without contaminating the milk.

Cluster Rinse has an integrated filter which supplies filtrated water for use in the backflush process, this is coupled with backflow prevention valves to stop any possibility of peracetic acid flowing back into mains water supply. Further, a self-cleaning block and bleed valve eliminates the possibility of contamination.

The Cluster Rinse has a low water use consumption and low operating costs.

Taking the stand

A cow’s stance and the position of her back legs are crucial when it comes to achieving accurate teat spraying. Installing a GEA Platform Universal Device (iPUD) in each bail ensures the leg locator sets the cow’s stance ready for milking through to cup removal and teat spraying.

When the cups are automatically removed, it triggers the teat spray, which is ideally located on the iPUD, directly under the cow’s udder, ensuring maximum coverage with the cross-fire technology.

The standard iPUD also has a black panel which helps the milk harvester easily detect signs of mastitis when stripping a cow.

The more-advanced iPUD Heads Down Display unit includes a mastitis lens panel which illuminates the udder and operator working area. The illuminated panel flashes different colours to indicate information, flashing green during milking, flashing red when a problem has occurred during milking, and purple during teat spraying.

GEA have a suite of udder hygiene solutions, helping create healthy udders.