So, have you ever, even in this age of the internet, tried to find information on a certain, very specific topic, and just have not been able to find an answer, not even close? Here is the question: What is the best way to wash your goat’s udder and teats before milking?
Easy question, right? We were prepping our lovely dairy goats for milking, and as we were cleaning their udders and teats, we started discussing the best way to clean the udder and teats: Do you wash the teats first or the udder, do you clean the udder from the front to the back, back to front, side to side?
The internet didn’t provide the answer. Surprisingly, it was a fruitless search. All we found repeatedly was this sentence: “Wash the udder/teats before milking” and then a recipe on how to make your own udder wash or teat dip. To find an answer to our question, we went to Facebook to ask our fellow goat farmers, goat buddies and friends how they do it. Of course, if you ask 15 different goat owners one question, you get 15 different answers and this time was no different.
Is there Even An Answer?
Here are some options, as quotes:
1.” I clean the whole udder first, then use a clean cloth the clean the teats. Then I wash my hands, milk, clean the teats, and then spray the teats.”
2. “I never clean the udder, either before or after, and I don't use teat spray. I've never had a case of mastitis either!”
3. ”I only wash dirty udders, like right after birth etc. I use a warm washcloth with soapy water. During other times I dip the teat, wipe with a paper towel then milk. Then I redip.”
4. “We use a splash of bleach in hot soapy water to wash the teats, strip, then do a pre-dip, then dry with paper towel, then milk. Then we use a different dip for when we are done. We are also looking for new methods, etc. to help prevent mastitis. Considering using rubber gloves to cut down on germ transmission via our hands.”
5. “We also scrub our hands really good before milking, that “imo” is the most important part. We use a teat dip designed to seal the end of the teat off, which prevents entry of bacteria while the orifice closes off. If you have clean hands and they do not lie down for about 15 minutes after milking the orifice is closed. Many people also put some yummy alfalfa hay out that they go to right after milking so they stand and eat while everything closes off.”
6. “Here we wash the whole udder with spectrum udder wash, each teat gets dipped with pre iodine dip, washed with wipes and after milking dip with a iodine barrier dip (Astro-tek). We also sanitize our hands between does and before and after milking.”
7. “Hot soapy water with wash cloth- teats first, then teats with treated disposable dairy wipes, then dry with wash cloth, teats first. When washing udder, I'd say front then back. We shave our udders so that really helps.”
As you can see, the answers run the whole spectrum from not doing anything at all to doing a lot.
We fall somewhere in the middle and here is what we do:
Before the goats come on the milking stand, we brush our goats to remove loose hair from their backs, legs, and underside. Once the does are on the milking stand, we wash our hands, then we pre-treat their teats with a chlorhexadine spray. We wash our hands. Next we use a disposable dairy wipe (Wipe-Out by Immucell) to clean the teats, one side for each teat, and then wipe the udder from back to front around the sides like a figure eight. If the wipe still shows dirt, we use a second, and third or even a fourth teat wipe. As you guessed, a four wiper is a really dirty goat J. This is the time to notice anything that may need closer attention like a cut, abrasion, a sting, or even a rash. We wash our hands again, then we strip, then we wash our hands, then we attach the milking machine. After milking, we teat dip with a chlorhexadine teat dip with aloe and send them out to a yummy perennial peanut hay meal in their feeder. We clean the inflations of the machine with a disposable teat wipe between each goat.
We have opted for disposable wipes because they can just be tossed, and we have don’t have to mess with washing dirty cloths and hanging them to dry. Yes, it is more expensive to buy up front, but measured in time spent to wash cloths, the cost factor probably evens out. We have also found that the particular teat wipes we are using do not dry out the udders, our hands or cause rashes.
We have looked into and tried wearing disposable gloves while milking, but to do it right, you’d have to change the gloves between every goat and we feel a solid hand washing accomplishes the same thing.
We have stayed away from iodine based teat dips and udder washes, even though they may be very good, since many people have issues with supplemental iodine.
Now this works for us right now. As you have read before, there are many other ways to do it and none of them are wrong. The most important thing is to clean the teats and keep them clean before, during and after milking in order to prevent any bacteria from entering the milk canals and therefore minimizing the threat of mastitis.
And… if you have a goat or farm related question, you would like an answer to, don’t hesitate to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Who knows, we might be able to find you the answer J, and of course share it with all our readers.