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Effect of pre-milking teat preparation procedures on the microbial count on teats prior to cluster application

D Gleeson*, B O'Brien, J Flynn, E O'Callaghan and F Galli

Author Affiliations

Teagasc, Moorepark, Dairy Production Research Centre, Fermoy, Co. Cork

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Irish Veterinary Journal 2009, 62:461-467  doi:10.1186/2046-0481-62-7-461

Published: 1 July 2009


A study was carried out to investigate the effect of six pre-milking teat preparation procedures on lowering the staphylococal, streptococcal and coliform microbial count on teat skin prior to cluster application. The teat preparations included 'Iodine', 'Chlorhexidine' teat foam, 'Washing and drying' with paper, 'No preparation', 'Chlorine' teat foam, and disinfectant 'Wipes'. Teat preparations were applied for five days to 10 cows for each treatment during two herd management periods (indoors and outdoors). Teats were swabbed on day four and five before teat preparation and repeated after teat preparation. The swabs were plated on three selective agars: Baird Parker (Staphylococcus spp.), Edwards (Streptococcus spp.), and MacConkey (coliform). Following incubation, microbial counts for each pathogen type were manually counted and assigned to one of six categories depending on the microbial counts measured. The results were analysed by logistic regression using SAS [28]. The main analysis was conducted on binary improvement scores for the swabbing outcomes. There were no differences for staphylococcal, streptococcal and coliform bacterial counts between treatments, measured 'before' teat preparation. Treatments containing 'Chlorhexidine' teat foam (OR = 4.46) and 'Wipes' (OR = 4.46) resulted in a significant reduction (P < 0.01) in the staphylococcal count on teats compared to 'Washing and drying' or 'No preparation'. 'Chlorine' teat foam (OR = 3.45) and 'Wipes' (3.45) had the highest probability (P < 0.01) of reducing streptococcal counts compared to 'Washing and drying' or 'No preparation'. There was no statistical difference between any of the disinfectant treatments applied in reducing coliforms. Thus, the use of some disinfectant products for pre-milking teat preparation can have beneficial effects on reducing the levels of staphylococcal and streptococcal pathogens on teat skin.

cows; microbial counts; swabs; teat preparation