Key Messages for an Efficient Udder Preparation Routine

Adequate teat preparation before cluster attachment is key to maintain healthy udders and milk quality.

• A pre-milking udder preparation routine should stimulate milk letdown and minimize the risk of infection and contamination of milk by bacteria and soil.

• Work over the years has shown that clear benefits in udder health and milk quality are obtained when applying a full milking routine (Tables 1 and 2).

• Even though a “one fits all” routine may not be applicable, a review of key udder preparations is presented to remind farmers of the importance of creating and implementing an udder preparation routine before milking.

• Maintaining healthy udders and producing high quality milk should be a passion for all dairy producers. Key points presented below are part of a full pre-milking routine.

Key Points for Prepping Teats Before Milking

• Milkers’ hands should be clean before milking.

-Action: Milkers should wash hands before milking and wear disposable gloves.

• Forestripping cows helps improve milk letdown and identify abnormal milk.

-Action: Remove first 2 to 3 streams of milk into a strip cup and check to see if milk displays normal appearance (Figure 1).

• Stimulating teats before milking will help decrease milking time and increase milk yield.

-Action: Remove debris and clean teats before milking by using a combination of the following: dry / wet paper, foam cleaner, and /or teat sanitizer (Table 2 and Figure 1).

• Milking soiled quarters will increase the chances of mastitis and contamination of milk.

-Action: Thoroughly clean / sanitize teats before milking by using a foam cleaner or teat sanitizer. Maintain cows in a clean environment. Change bedding material regularly and make sure manure in alleyways and cubicles is minimal.

• Teats must be clean and dry before attaching the milking cluster.

-Action: Thoroughly clean / sanitize teats before milking by using a foam cleaner or teat sanitizer. Use a dry paper towel or cloth to remove debris or product present in teats before attaching the milking units (Table 2).

• Use products that have been tested and that are approved for the application.

-Action: Check that your milking routine and expected outcomes make use of approved products (Table 2).

• Keep a consistent routine.

-Action: Define a pre-milking routine that best fits your needs. Follow-up and make improvements, if necessary, by reviewing milk quality and animal health records.

Table 1 - Summary of Results from Studies Showing the Differences Between a Minimal and Full Pre-Milking Udder Preparation

Table 2 - Expected Pre-Milking Routine Outcomes and Value of Milking Routines

Figure 1 - Suggested Times for Pre-Milking Udder Preparations


Galton, D.M., et al 1984. Effects of premilking udder preparation on bacterial population sediment, and iodine residue in milk. J. Dairy Sci. 67: 2580-2589.

Galton, D.M., et al 1986. Effect of premilking udder preparation on bacterial counts in milk and on teats. J. Dairy Sci. 69: 260-266

Glesson, D., et al 2009. Effect of pre-milking teat preparation procedures on the microbial count on teats prior to cluster application. Irish Vet. Jour. 62: 461-467.

Maroney, M., et al 2004. Use of Lactocorder® to measure milking performance. In: Proceedings Annual Meeting National Mastitis Council.

Ruegg, P. 2004. Pre-milking cow preparation – Secret methods of producing high quality milk. In: NMC Regional Meeting Proceedings, p. 34-40.

Smith, J.F., et al 2005. Managing the milking parlor: an economic consideration of profitability. In: Proceedings Annual Meeting National Mastitis Council, p.165-180.

Wallace, J.A., et al 2003. Measuring Stimulations effect with milk flow curves. In: Proceedings Annual Meeting National Mastitis Council, p. 86-96




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