Follow label instructions for use. Use teat disinfectants at recommended concentration. Do not dilute unless indicated on the label. If dilution is necessary, be sure that water quality standards (bacteria, pH, hardness, etc.) are met. Use a clean container for diluting, and thoroughly mix the final product.
Disinfectant cups should be emptied and cleaned as part of the routine wash-up after each milking or if they become contaminated during milking. Never pour used disinfectant back into the original container.
What products to use
Good teat disinfectants should have efficacy against the major mastitis pathogens, be economical, easy to apply, and should maintain or promote good skin condition. Both traditional and barrier types of disinfectants are available. Whatever type is chosen, the product should have documented efficacy against all the major contagious mastitis pathogens.
Use only products that are: 1) listed with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and 2) shown to effectively reduce infection rate by controlled research. The FDA regulates teat disinfectants as over-the-counter (OTC) drugs. However, the FDA does not require proof of effectiveness for labeling. Specific teat disinfectants have been studied in controlled research, but imitations are readily available, and minor formulation changes often reduce effectiveness.
Dairy producers should demand information from the manufacturer on compliance with FDA regulations and results of controlled research studies showing efficacy. Another source of information concerning teat disinfectant efficacy is the Summary of Peer-Reviewed Publications on Efficacy of Premilking and Postmilking Teat Disinfectants Published Since 1980 made available and updated annually by the National Mastitis Council (NMC). The summary of peer-reviewed publications is not exhaustive, and new findings may be reported between publications of the list.
How are teat disinfectants tested?
The National Mastitis Council (NMC) recommends two methods of testing teat disinfectants. Protocols for Experimental Challenge and Natural Exposure are described briefly below:
- Experimental Challenge evaluates the ability of a teat disinfectant to prevent infections in dairy cows under conditions of experimental exposure to mastitis pathogens. This protocol determines effectiveness under experimental conditions only.
- Natural Exposure evaluates ability of a teat disinfectant to prevent infection in dairy cows under commercial dairy practices. This protocol determines effectiveness under natural conditions.