Improving Milk Quality With Udder Preparation For Goats

Factsheet - ISSN 1198-712X   -   Copyright Queen's Printer for Ontario
Agdex#: 435/20
Publication Date: 07/03
Order#: 03-061
Last Reviewed: 07/03
History: Original Factsheet
Written by: Vanessa Taylor, Milk Quality Assurance Program Lead/OMAFRA

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Washing
  3. Teat Pre-dipping and post-dipping
  4. Reference


It is commonplace in the dairy industry to perform effective udder preparation to improve and maintain the highest quality for your milk. It is also common knowledge that udder preparation for cows is necessary due to the wetness of their manure and that goats have much drier feces, keeping their udders cleaner than cows. This does not mean that the udders and teats of goats are free of bacteria that can compromise the quality of milk in your bulk tank. Bacteria have the potential to enter the udder from the teat end and cause mastitis. To avoid spikes in bacteria and somatic cell counts for your bulk tank ensure the teat skin surface is clean and dry before milking, and practice post dipping after milking as a mastitis control program. It has been said that it is easier keeping goats healthy than getting them healthy.


Dry-wiping is not effective

Dry-wiping teats may seem like a convenient shortcut to remove dust and dirt from the udder and teats, however this can do more harm than good, especially if you use the same cloth from one doe to the next. While the cloth looks clean, you have potentially just cross-contaminated the does by wiping them with the same cloth used on a doe that may have sub-clinical mastitis. Dry wiping also does not remove all dust and dirt from the animal.

Using udder washes and only milking dry teats

Washing teats with an udder wash solution or wiping teats with a cloth saturated in an approved sanitizing solution obtains best results. Washing the entire udder is not necessary unless it is caked with dirt (a good reason to keep bedding clean and dry to reduce time spent cleaning and drying dirty udders). In fact, avoid washing relatively clean udders to minimize creating a warm, moist environment for bacteria to thrive in. Keeping udder hair clipped, to minimize the surface area for bacteria to attach to, also help reduce the amount of bacteria present that may be deposited on to the teats. The milker should focus the most attention on the cleanliness and health of the teat skin. The mechanical action of wiping off the teats combined with the germicidal effect of the sanitizer will remove most bacteria from the teat skin surface. When using an udder wash solution or a teat dip to clean teats, it is of utmost importance that the teats are completely dried with a single use towel before attaching the milking unit.

Teat Pre-Dipping and Post-Dipping

A more labour efficient way to clean and disinfect teats during milking is to use teat pre-dips before attaching the milking unit. There are two application methods for teat pre-dip. One method uses a cup containing the dip while the other method uses a spray on applicator. There are pros and cons to each method, however the key to proper usage of any teat pre-dip is to ensure that the teat is completely covered in dip.

Dipping into the cup is rapid and the milker can control the area of the teat that is covered by the dip. Spraying takes longer to ensure that the entire surface is covered and usually more dip is expelled from the spray nozzle to achieve this (up to 50% more compared to using a cup). Dip cups can become easily contaminated and need to be cleaned often, the dip in spray bottles does not receive this type of exposure. Dips need to be discarded from the cup after milking or when the dip becomes contaminated, spray bottles contain the dip and do not need to be changed as frequently. Anti-spill dip cups are economical for teat dip and also contain the dip, so it does not become contaminated. Spray nozzles need to be maintained so that the spray is even and does not become blocked. Which is better? Management plays a big part in that decision, as cost of dip, cost of towels and time determines which method is better for the milker.
Post dipping is essential after milking to reduce the incidence of new mastitis cases from occurring in your herd. The teat sphincter at the end of the teat canal remains open after milking, giving pathogens an excellent opportunity to enter the teat canal and then the udder causing infection.

Post dipping creates a barrier for the teat end, reducing the opportunity for infection while giving the sphincter time to naturally close up. Keeping the does standing for 30 minutes after milking also reduces the opportunity for organisms to infect the udder that may be present in the bedding (also a good reason to make sure there is plenty of clean, dry bedding available).

Use only products validated as a teat dip

When transferring teat dip from the manufacturer's container to a dip cup or spray bottle, clearly label the cup/bottle with the name of the teat dip product to avoid using other sanitizing products by mistake on the teats. Products not tested and approved as udder washes and teat dips can damage the teats. For example, homemade solutions incorporating bleach can, with prolonged use, be especially damaging to teat skin. The other danger with using homemade solutions is that the strength of the solution may not be strong enough to properly disinfect, giving the milker a false sense of security about the effectiveness of the solution. Products containing iodine and chlorhexidine are the most common and effective, providing a broad spectrum of kill for many of the major pathogens.

Keep dip and dip cup clean at all times

Choose a dip cup that covers the length of the teat, minimizes spillage and is easy to clean. Discard udder wash and/or dip if it becomes contaminated with dirt or manure during milking. Contamination is easier to see in lighter coloured solutions like chlorhexadine but more difficult in iodine solutions When in doubt, throw it out!

Never pour leftover dip after milking back into the original container. Always rinse cups out with potable water and let dry after each milking. Sanitize once a week. Do not use the dip cup for anything other than teat dipping.

Use dip according to the manufacturer's instructions

Some dip and udder wash products are in a ready-to-use solution that makes it easier for the milker. For concentrated solutions however, it is imperative to make the proper dilution. Do not estimate the amount of concentrate and/or the amount of potable water to use. This can result in a solution either too dilute to have enough killing power, or too strong that can damage the teat skin, as well as cost more money. Also, do not add anything to teat dips, such as aloe vera or glycerine as a skin moisturizer. This dilutes the dip and makes it less effective in killing bacteria. Certain added ingredients, like aloe vera, can inhibit the germicidal action of iodine dips or the moisturizing ability of the added ingredient may be reduced. Choose a product that already has the necessary and compatible ingredients mixed in.

Store dip products in a dry, cool, clean place, not where products may freeze or in extremely hot areas. The germicidal agent in the dip may become deactivated or may separate, which can damage the teat end if used and have very little strength to kill bacteria effectively.

Dipping in cold weather

During extremely cold weather, take care to avoid chapping or freezing of teat ends. Use a product that contains skin conditioners (10%-14% glycerol or lanolin), leave on the teat for 30 sec. to 1 min., then wipe dry with a single service towel. Using udder creams can help keep the teat skin soft and supple, and avoid cracks that harbour bacteria.

Using a wash solution warmed slightly allows the teat to dry more quickly than if the solution was cold. Your doe will also appreciate the warm, comforting solution compared to the shock of using cold water on a sensitive area like the teat end, causing undue stress to the doe.

Do not perform teat-dipping practices sporadically, seasonally or when you have a quality problem with your bulk tank. This can disrupt the milking routine for your does and may possibly lead to more problems with animal health. It should be done for every milking throughout the doe's lactation period.


  1. Edmondson, Peter. Teat Dipping Trouble. Taken from, 2001
  2. Hemling, Thomas C. Teat Condition - Prevention and Cure through Teat Dips. Taken from, 2001
  3. Kinne, Maxine. Good Milking Procedures. 1989

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