Winter is coming, and so is the rain, wind, colder temperatures and mud that create a greater risk to cows’ udder health.

Water and mud strip the protective natural oils from the udder skin, leading to cracks on teats.

Cracks and teat sores are painful and understandably lead to poor cow behaviour during milking, with increased kicking, stomping and defecating, along with poor milk let-down.

Rough or damaged teat skin also provides sites for bacteria to become lodged, and multiply, causing exposure to mastitis.

The greater number of bacteria near the teat end increases the risk bacteria will enter through the teat canal.

While the dry period has environmental challenges it can be a good opportunity for cows to recover from their lactation and improve their udder health.

When cows have been dried off their mammary tissue can recover and repair, with regeneration of udder tissue. Once cows have been dried off under good management, it is therefore essential to monitor cows during their dry period and look after those udders and keep them in good health leading into calving and lactation.

DairyNZ recommends observing udders at least once a week and manually checking all udders once a fortnight for the first 4-6 weeks of the dry period, teat spraying afterwards. Teat spraying will improve teat condition, while reducing bacteria on teats and reducing cases of mastitis.

Taking the time to look after cows’ udders during the dry period, increasing teat spraying while they’re in the springer mob and after calving and into lactation is worth the benefits. Cows with a healthy udder will produce more milk, are easier to milk, have less mastitis and suffer less pain, they’re more likely to get in calf, have a longer productive lifetime and be more profitable.

The DairyNZ Healthy Udder Guide can be used in farm dairies to educate staff on the best way to prevent poor udder health, along with how to find and treat teat sores and cracks.

To download the guide visit