Many teat dips are now available on the market: Iodine dip, chlorhexidine, lactic acid, chlorine dioxide. Concentrate form, RTU, 2 components.
Spray, dip or film forming agent. The choice of products and applications are endless.
This article presents the key points to check in order to get the best hygiene protection on your farm before and after milking.
Before milking: “Proper cleaning sets the basis of successful disinfection
Before milking, the product to choose must have excellent cleaning properties: Using a product with solely disinfecting activity is not recommended as the cows are coming from the barn, a less than perfect environment in term of hygiene.
This is also aligned with the following principle: Clean first before you disinfect. Germs can hide underneath the dirt and other material covering the teat skin. Therefore, they can remain not affected by the disinfectant. Dirt and organic material can also reduce the germ-killing ability of some disinfectants. Take iodophors or sodium hypochlorite for instance: a study has shown that they lose their disinfecting power in the presence of organic matter (reference 1).
When it comes to skin (teat skin or hand skin) it is a rough surface, with cracks and creases. It is easy for bacteria to adhere and multiply. Applying disinfectant without cleaning first will not affect the bacteria that are deeply imbedded in the creases and protected by a layer of dirt. A pre-milking disinfecting spray applied before milking will reduce the number of surface-level pathogens on the teats but not necessarily the bacteria that hide in the creases of the skin. What does remove these imbedded pathogens is a proper teat cleaning method.
The agitation created during the teat cleaning process dislodges the bacteria from the cracks and surfaces of the teats, enabling them to be removed when the teats are wiped off before the clusters are attached. A pre-milking foaming teat solution will penetrate into the cracks of the skin, therefore removing the imbedded bacteria.
Is a one-step cleaning and disinfecting process acceptable?
Yes! Make sure the product has excellent cleaning AND fast acting disinfectant properties. Example: the fast antibacterial efficacy of lactic acid has been demonstrated in both anionic and non-ionic surfactant-based cleaner formulations, at a concentration less than 3%, within 30 seconds contact time (reference 2).
The additional benefit of using a good teat cleaning agent before milking is that it keeps the teats cleaner in the long term as well.
How do you recognize a good pre-dipping cleaning product?
The result, of course, but also the foaming properties of the product. If the product foams well, and the foam is persistent (in the foaming cup) this is a good indication that it contains the effective ingredients to detach the dirt from the skin.
Milk safety is always important
Pay particular attention to the possible residues that you can find in milk. Let’s take the example of iodine: it has been shown that iodine applied before or after milking (especially by spraying) increases the iodine content in milk. Thus extra precautions have to be taken, especially now that residues are more and more of a concern.
Post-milking teat disinfection
Many options are available for post-milking disinfection in term of active substances as well as many forms of application, such as dipping or spraying, manually, semi-automated or fully automated…
How to choose the ideal solution for your farm?
Teat condition comes first
At CID LINES, we believe that soft skin and smooth teat ends are the priority in order to prevent infections and bacteria growth. Teat ends and teat skin are under constant pressure during the lactation: the impact of the milking machine, the strength of the vacuum, versatile weather conditions, etc. That’s why the first question to answer before selecting a teat dip is: are the teat ends and the teat skin in a healthy condition? Dry skin and teat end showing hyperkeratosis require an extra teat conditioner. A product, formulated 10 000ppm classical Iodine for instance, cannot contain enough emollients to compensate the drying effect of the iodine present in the product.
One should not forget that every drug (every disinfectant) is toxic at a certain dose. Therefore, when the skin condition is under challenge, high emollient formulations, combined with
a gentle disinfectant for the skin are highly recommended. Example: skin has a good tolerance for chlorhexidine based or lactic acid based teat dips.
Consider the viscosity
The product viscosity has an impact on the duration of the contact between the skin and the product: the skin will benefit from an extended contact with a gentle and hydrating
formulation, whereas it will suffer from an aggressive formulation. As a consequence, a highly concentrated formulation based on a potentially irritating disinfectant molecule
should be applied by spray (offering a shorter contact time).
Film forming teat dips based on polymers is a third option, offering a physical barrier especially recommended in case of challenging environment: the dirt sticks on the film, not
on the skin, it is then much easier to remove at the next milking.
Weather specific formulation
Specific weather condition requires specific formulation: this is the case of winter conditions (temperature below zero degree Celsius and cold winds). In this case, products that dry
faster are more suitable (for instance, alcohol based formulation).
What are the options when skin condition is of good quality? Oxidizing ingredients, such as chlorine dioxide or iodine can be recommended as they offer a large spectrum of activity, protecting against bacteria and also virus (responsible for warts) and algae (such as Prototheca).
Do not forget the risk of residual
If the teats are well prepared before milking, the risk of residues is negligible. As mentioned above, iodine formulations applied after milking by spraying have been associated with increased iodine content in the milk. Chlorine dioxide, present in the form of a solubilized gas, is less prone to residues in the milk. One should not forget that milk is one of the most important food components for human and, in particular, for infants.
REFERENCES 1. Neutralization of the activity of eight disinfectants by organic matter. Gélinas P, Goulet J. J Appl Bacteriol. 1983 Apr;54(2):243-7. 2. Opinion on the application for approval of the active substance: L(+) Lactic acid https://echa.europa.eu/documents/10162/7e1ee854-31fe-4cb3-b0bf-884d3398c693