Top tips: Avoiding the 6 common pitfalls of teat sealing
The focus for dairy farms is switching to drying off; and making sure that dry off procedures are carried out correctly is critical to ensure your cows are protected for the duration of the dry cow period.
A key part of Irish dairy farmers’ dry-off procedure is the infusion of an intramammary teat sealant.
Understanding the correct methodology for the administration of teat sealant (or ‘sealers’, as they are commonly known) and being aware of the common pitfalls is critical for ensuring success.
With teat sealants used in around 80% of the national dairy herd, it’s easy to become complacent about their use; pick up bad habits; or avoid reading administration instructions.
However, there are some common mistakes that should be avoided in order to ensure success.
1. The warm water ‘method’
A common and yet very dangerous ‘method’ that some farmers use is to place syringes in warm or hot water before they are infused on a cold morning.
This practice must be avoided at all costs as warm water can contain high levels of bacteria. If you place syringes in warm water prior to use, you may inadvertently infuse the cow’s teats with these bacteria and cause infection.
If you are concerned about using teat sealant on a cold morning, a much better and safer tip is to simply keep the product in the house overnight before sealing takes place.
2. Neglecting hygiene
Hygiene is paramount at dry off and it is vital that an aseptic technique is employed.
Before infusing dry cow antibiotics or teat sealant, ensure that the teat has been pre-dipped and thoroughly cleaned with surgical spirit and alcohol or the approved wipes that may be provided with the products.
When cleaning the teat ends, keep going until the wipe or cotton wool swab comes away perfectly clean. It’s also important to ensure that clean gloves are used; if they get dirty, take them off and replace with another clean pair.
These steps are critical to avoid the inadvertent introduction of bacteria. The video below shows all the critical steps required to ensure that the procedure is sufficiently hygienic.
3. The importance of training
It can be easy to assume that everyone on the farm has the same knowledge level, but that’s not necessarily the case.
If you have new people on the farm assisting with dry off, ensure that they are fully trained in your on-farm protocols to ensure a hygienic and successful dry off.
It can be helpful to have your protocol written up and on display for easy reference.
4. Forgetting to pinch
For teat sealants such as Boviseal® to work they need to remain in the teat canal. In order for them to do so, it’s vital to pinch the top of the teat where it meets the base of the udder while infusing the seal.
This ensures it stays in the teat canal and forms a physical barrier to bacteria throughout the dry period.
5. Thinking all teat sealants are the same
There is a belief among some farmers that all teat sealants are more-or-less the same. However, this isn’t true.
For example, Boviseal® has a patented formulation and contains a special ingredient called colloidal anhydrous silica.
This Boviseal® ingredient gives the seal its body and viscosity; making it thick enough to remain in the teat canal of the cow throughout the entire dry cow period.
Boviseal’s colloidal anhydrous silica formulation also gives the product its flexibility, which is necessary for the product to stay in place as the cow moves around and lies down.
In spite of the pressure on the cow’s udder and teats when she lies down, Boviseal® will remain in the teat canal due to its formulation.
6. Thinking that infusion is the last step
It’s easy to think that infusion is the last step in the process. But, don’t forget that it’s vital to post-dip teats; to record all treatments in the medicine book; and also to make sure cows stand for half an hour after receiving a teat sealant such as Boviseal®.
Providing food is the best way to ensure that they will stand. The video mentioned above contains step-by-step information on the entire process.