Investigation of the relationship between udder towel hygiene, udder towel management and intramammary infection in late lactation dairy cows
Keywords:Pre-milking cleaning, teat disinfection, dairy cattle, towel laundering, bacteria, intramammary infection, hygiene
Pre-milking cleaning and teat disinfection is a common practice on US dairy farms. Studies have shown that towel laundering practices can influence levels of bacteria in towels that are used in teat preparation. Consequently, some laboratories offer towel culture services, which are used by practitioners to evaluate the effectiveness of towel laundering systems. However, the impact of poor towel hygiene on udder health is not well understood, and few surveys have been conducted to describe towel hygiene, or management strategies to improve towel hygiene, on US dairy farms.
The objectives of this cross-sectional study are to: 1) describe the levels of bacteria in udder towels on US dairy farms, 2) describe associations between towel total bacteria count (TBC) and intramammary infection (IMI) prevalence for individual pathogens and specific pathogen groups in late lactation cows, 3) identify laundering-related risk factors for high towel bacteria count, and 4) identify critical levels of bacteria in towels, that might be used as cut-points to guide practitioners when interpreting towel culture reports. This study is ongoing, with results currently being assembled. In this abstract we report preliminary results.