The 3 Vs of teat dipping

With the rise in environmental pathogens and the need to reduce antibiotic usage, veterinary consultant Tommy Heffernan and dairy hygiene specialist Alison Clark look at improving teat dip efficacy

A combination of pressure to reduce antibiotic usage on farm and an increase in environmental pathogens makes consistent and effective pre-milking routines more critical than ever, says veterinary consultant Tommy Heffernan and Progiene dairy hygiene specialist Alison Clark.

“Many factors impact milk quality but focusing on consistent and good routines and effective teat disinfection helps. During the COVID pandemic, we all learned the importance of hygiene in stopping the spread of infectious disease,” says Dr Heffernan.

Like handwashing, teat disinfection plays its part in dramatic results and improvements in milk quality and the prevention of intramammary disease like mastitis. However, product application and milking protocols will directly affect teat health, impacting on new intramammary infections, milking times, yield and milk quality, adds Ms Clark.

Below, they outline these considerations as the 3 Vs of teat dipping:


“This is about matching the correct teat dip to the challenge on the farm,” says Dr Heffernan. “Pre-milking, we need fast-acting agents, and post teat dipping, we require longer residual activity and killing times.”

For optimum milk let-down, Ms Clark says to use a product that has been tested to work within 30 seconds.

“By introducing a pre-dipping routine that allows for udders to be prepped in under 90 seconds, milking time can speed up significantly by optimising milk let-down reflex,” says Ms Clark. “By getting them stimulated properly, cows will be milked out more completely, which can result in a 500l per cow extra yield per year.”

At the same time as achieving an effective broad-spectrum biocidal effect, teat dips need to be skin-friendly and moisturising.

“We want a combination of killing and kindness in our teat dips with well-formulated products containing emollients such as glycerine and lanolin that improve teat condition. Spend time with your milk advisor matching your teat dip to your milk quality challenges,” says Dr Heffernan.


Using the correct volume of teat dip is essential for efficacy, says Dr Heffernan. This can vary depending on dipping or spraying.

For teat dipping, it is 10mls/cow/milking and for spraying it is 15mls/cow per milking.

For a 100 cow dairy herd milking TAD that is post teat dipping, you’d expect to be using 14 liters a week of post teat dip.

100 cows x (2 milking’s) x (7 days)  = (1400 milking’s a week) x 10ml =14 liters of dip a week.


After establishing the correct amount of teat dip is being used, it then needs to be applied correctly over the teat end and completely cover the barrel of the teat.

“Teat dips that are applied with a cup are the easiest way to ensure full teat coverage, however, the cup needs to be designed specifically for more viscous products and can impact coverage when cups aren’t used correctly or are too difficult to fill,” says Ms Clark.

For those using a spray, routine assessments are needed since it is common for the far side of the teat barrels to receive inadequate coverage.

“This can be assessed by wrapping teats after application with a paper towel to look for even coverage,” adds Dr Heffernan.

Practice consistency

Regardless of which products are used, it is essential that milking staff, including relief milkers, all practice the same protocols since varying practices can result in reduced milk yield and quality, and even lead to increased risk of pathogen contamination.

“The most important component of all routines on farms are the people themselves. We must understand why we are teat dipping,” concludes Dr Heffernan. “The objective for high milk quality and reduced mastitis must be clearly explained to all members of the team. When everyone buys into the vision of the business we get much more effective at the routines and produce better results.”