Emollient – why is it important?

Emollient – why is it important?
By Jemma Guyton, Veterinarian, Anexa Vets Te Aroha

Teats that are rough or have sores are uncomfortable for cows, they are harder to keep clean and are at increased risk of causing mastitis. This is because rough teat skin and sores provide a great place for bacteria to grow and multiply. These bacteria can then enter the teat canal potentially causing mastitis.

How do teats get rough and sore?

  • Harsh environmental conditions such as mud, wind, and rain
  • Faulty milking machines i.e. vacuum too high
  • Rough handling during cupping or cup removal
If you are seeing rough, damaged teats, this could be contributing to increased mastitis or somatic cell count.

A good place to start is by making some simple changes to your teat spray and teat spraying practices. Such as:
  • Improve technique and coverage
  • Change your concentration – needs to be right for the time of year i.e 1:4 or 1:5 in early lactation
  • Adding emollient
Emollients such as glycerine work by softening and conditioning teat skin by keeping teat skin hydrated. This can help to reduce rough teat skin and sores.

Your teat spray might already have emollient in it, however, as a rule, in early lactation in New Zealand conditions, the concentration of emollient in your teat spray is usually not enough to do the job. You will more than likely need to add more. You can add emollient up to a maximum of 15% of the final mix. Remember, the extra emollient you add needs to replace the same volume of water in the mix.

Even if you have high levels of emollient in your teat spray, if you aren’t applying it evenly and covering all four teats thoroughly you won’t see the results you want! Aim for 15-20ml/teatspray/milking/cow.

If you are noticing rough and sore teats in your herd or have any concerns about teat condition, have a chat to your vet.

Date Added: Wednesday, 5th August 2020