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Prevent Cold Stress in Lactating Cows

January 3, 2014
 
 

Source: South Dakota State University

As temperatures continue to drop, dairy cattle are at increased risk for cold stress said South Dakota State Uuniversity Extension Dairy Specialist Alvaro Garcia.

"With daytime temperatures in the double digits below zero for next week, dairy producers should be prepared for cold weather conditions that can affect lactating cows," Garcia said.

Lactating cows that are adequately fed should withstand cold conditions provided they are kept dry and not exposed directly to winds. Keep the housing area dry and free of manure and provide ample supply of dry clean bedding daily.

Garcia noted that teat skin chapping (frostbite) can become a problem in lactating cows during cold, windy weather. 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," Garcia said. "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."

Recent research indicates teat dipping should be continued during cold windy days. Pre- and post-milking teat dips should include skin conditioners like glycerin and lanolin.

Producers should dry teats and udders effectively. Cows should not be turned outside on cold and windy days until the teat dip has dried for 1 minute. Garcia also pointed out the cold weather guidelines from the National Mastitis Council. They include:
• In very cold weather it may be advisable to dip just the teat end.
• When teats are dipped, dip only the end and blot off any excess with a single-use paper towel.
• Teats should be dry before turning cows out of the barn.
• Warming the teat dip reduces drying time.
• Windbreaks in outside holding areas provide some protection.
• Fresh cows with swollen udders are more susceptible to chapping.

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RELATED TOPICS: Dairy, Herd Health, Animal Welfare

 
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