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Teat spraying is critical to achieving good teat condition and managing mastitis through the season. This is because supple and healthy teats harbour fewer bacteria, which makes the milking process a lot more comfortable for cows.
"Many bacteria live on the surface of cows' teat skin, where they have a beneficial role - mostly protecting the cow from getting mastitis. If the teat condition of a cow deteriorates, however, these normally 'friendly' bacteria, along with pathogens get an opportunity to cause mastitis," says Farm Medix's Natasha Maguire.
GEA's FIL has been working closely with Farm Medix over the past three years, helping farmers gain a clear picture of the pathogens present in their herd's milk and how they can take the next step in improving herd health and milk quality.
A lot of the testing we have done on-farm has revealed the presence of coagulase-negative staphylococci (CNS), which is considered opportunist mastitis encouraged by poor teat condition, says FIL's National Sales Manager Bede Murphy.
"Until three years ago, I had never really heard of the group of bacteria called CNS. Yet, they make up around 50 percent of mastitis cases. The surprising thing is that this kind of mastitis has a high rate of self-cure without treatment."
"Bacteria inducing pathogens thrive on rough, cracked teat skin. So, our advice to farmers is to soften the cows' teats to make the milking process more comfortable and to prevent teat damage."
"To achieve this, use 12-15 percent emollient to condition the teats and provide greater elasticity in the skin."
A good quality emollient, like FIL's Active Teat Conditioner, works to actively restore teat health. It also provides intensive care to severely cracked or chapped teats.
Made with special ingredients like Aloe Vera, Allantoin and Manuka honey - products used in human skincare for many years - Active Teat Conditioner hydrates, softens and soothes delicate teat skin.
"Farmers have achieved outstanding results with this product," says Bede.
It's also approved for use on organic farms. What farmers have to say about FIL Active Teat Conditioner.
Southland dairy farmer Caleb Hamill chatted to FIL Area Manager Mike Robinson about improving his herds' teat condition back in 2018.
"Basically, we were getting cracking around the top of the teats and the teat surface was dry," says Caleb.
Caleb was initially a little sceptical about the additional cost of adding emollient to his teat spray. However, Mike explained the importance of replacing one-part teat spray with emollient and that it was less expensive per litre (L) than teat spray.
"We thought it was just another cost. In the long-term, it’s going to cost less," says Caleb.
The results were noticeable straight away.
"Once we started using it, it solved all our problems. You could see an instant change in the first week after starting Active Teat Conditioner. The cows were more enjoyable to milk because they were more comfortable, and their teats were more supple."
When weather conditions are challenging, you need to adjust the emollient levels accordingly. Muddy, wet and windy conditions draw the moisture out of teats. This is when additional emollient is crucial.
Caleb notes that during springtime, he uses a mix rate of one L of teat spray, one L of emollient and six litres of water, which provides 15 percent emollient. For the rest of the season, he uses one L of teat spray, one L of emollient and eight litres of water, which provides 12 percent emollient.
There was also a noticeable difference in the number of cows he treated for mastitis. Caleb treated seven percent of his 1,150-cow herd for mastitis during the 2017/18 season with an average somatic cell count (SCC) of 140,000. After introducing FIL's Active Teat Conditioner in the 2018/19 season, treatments dropped to three to four percent, and the average SCC dropped to 101,000.
To put into perspective, a three percent drop in clinical cases in a 1,150-cow herd is 33 fewer treatments. At $150 per cow, this is a total saving of $4,950.
Despite the challenging, wet conditions last season, Caleb's herd had an average SCC of 75,000, and he was able to keep treatment costs down with a good teat care plan.
"I'd recommend Active Teat Conditioner because I've had good results from it and the cost is out-weighed by your animal health benefits," concludes Caleb.
Article supplied by FIL