Cow Udders 101: How to Care for Them and Keep Your Cow Healthy

Posted by Allie Layos

Cows may seem hardy, but their udders aren't. 

Caring for cow udders may seem simple, but from diseases and infection to injury, there are multiple things that can go wrong with them. If you want to keep your cow milking at her best, it is important to take proper precautions to protect her udders.

Here are a few ways to keep your cow healthy, happy and turning out great milk.


Keep the udders clean.

Before you begin milking your cow, it is important to clean her udders. The easiest way is to simply use running water, but you can also use iodine or another disinfectant. Once they are clean, dry the teats with a paper towel rather than a regular towel, as re-using towels can spread contamination.

If you are hand milking, make sure to wash and disinfect your hands before you begin. If you're using a milking machine instead, dip each teat in disinfectant and dry them completely before you attach the machine. Disinfect them again again when it is removed.

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Preventing and caring for injuries.

A cow's udders are large and awkward, and it is easy for them to get injured. Sometimes cows injure them on milking machines, or even by bruising or scraping them with their own feet. You can minimize this risk by keeping your cow's hooves and dewclaws trimmed, and bedding plentiful and clean. Sand, shavings, or even dried manure can make good bedding.

If your cow does scrape or scratch her udders, treat even the smallest wound by blotting it with a cotton pad, and treat larger ones with pain-relieving ointment before covering them with medical tape. For larger injuries also consult your veterinarian to see if the wound needs more than just bandaging.


Health concerns.

Keep an eye out for redness or swelling on the udder, sensitivity when the udder is touched or when milking, dehydration, diarrhea and loss of appetite-- all of which can be signs of mastitis. Another condition, udder scald, is a skin infection caused when the udder rubs against the upper thigh. Udder scald can be spotted by a moist rash and distinct, rank smell.

Both conditions can affect the cow's milk production, so you should contact your veterinarian at the first sign of either condition.

If you care for your cow's udders properly, you will enjoy lots of good milk and a healthy, happy cow.

Have you ever treated an udder problem? Tell us in the comments below. 

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