Wind chills and temperature changes are the major factors leading to winter teat challenges which can predispose cows to mastitis, says J.W. Schroeder, North Dakota State University extension dairy specialist. Here are some timely reminders to help you avoid problems this winter:

• Avoid drafts in buildings by properly controlling ventilation and airexchange openings.

• Avoid putting animals directly into extreme wind chills post-milking.

• Control the stall/bedding environment by providing comfortable, dry resting areas. Maintain and change bedding at appropriate intervals.

• Maintain milking equipment by checking vacuum and milk line hoses, pulsators, inflations and vacuum level. Keep pulsators clean and change inflations on schedule.

• Use milk-prep procedures that maximize teat disinfection and skin conditioning while minimizing irritation or trauma. Blot teats dry instead of rubbing to minimize irritation and use milking-hygiene practices like those used to control contagious mastitis (clean hands, gloves and individual towels).

• Review people/milking machine/unit-on time interactions. Proper techniques maximize unit performance and minimize teat stress.