Using Towels on your farm!

A few easy fixes you to avoid mastitis and other teat infections on your farm!

If you have read previous episodes of our blog or if you manage a farm yourself, then you are aware of how easily udder infections can occur within your herd. What you may not know, is that there are certain small measures you can take to prevent these outbreaks. In previous blog episode, we have covered the importance of wearing gloves when milking and we will now looks at the significance that drying teats before milking have on preventing infection.

Hands act as a vehicle for bacteria, but they’re not the only ones.

Regardless of how the teats are prepared before milking, they must be dried”. This is one of the key steps recommended to achieve a good milking procedure according to the Cornell University in New York, and we completely agree! Milking wet teats can increase the risk of high bacterial counts within milk and intramammary infections too. Water remaining on teats contains mastitis-causing organisms, which may be drawn into teat cups and attack teat ends. It is then fundamental to include “teats drying” among the pre-dipping activities. This can be easily done with towels. What kind of towel is best to use? Well it is not that easy to choose and it is actually part of a long-term discussions. We will now outline some options when it comes to which type of towel to use:

Cloth towels

Cloth towels, maybe a long-term investment, but are good for the environment as they generate less solid- waste and some say they are the most effective for scrubbing the teats and ensure that the teats are prepared thoroughly. They involve labour for their proper washing and need suitable storage. As they can be used more than once, they have to undergo a proper cleaning process, which is probably the most challenging part of their usage. We recommend setting up a proper ‘standard operating procedure’ for their usage in the parlour, which should include the following tips:

  • Cloth towels must be replaced regularly, approximately every 6 months;
  • Washing machines need to be checked and need to ensure a washing temperature is 90°
  • Clean buckets need to be provided to move the towels from the washing machine to the place where they are stocked
  • The stock should be clean and dry as well, otherwise there is a risk that the towels could absorb bacteria and bring them back into the milking routine.

The drying phase for cloth towels seems to be a good help in completing the sanitation phase started with washing, as Washington State University article states. Hot air drying and having the right dryer are recommended too.

Disposable paper towels

Disposable paper towels promote an effective sanitation per one-animal per one-use. However, they are not as environmentally friendly as cloth towels and generate long-term costs. A third alternative could be using the microfiber towels because of their ability to dry quickly. However, despite their drying speed they are hard to sanitize if too compressed when in the washing machine.

Disposable paper towels vs re-usable cloth ones: which one is best according to our expert?

“Paper towels work quite well to clean teats and to dry, furthermore they are always clean. It is possible to find in the market some, which grant the right roughness to properly stimulate teats and to get the right level of dryness. Additionally, using paper towels gives the opportunity to pre-dip the teats or to spray them with a foam that dissolves dirt allowing you to thoroughly clean and disinfected on the teats.”

This is our recommendation and process: Clean-strip-dip-dry-attach. This is the right path to follow when milking” According to our milking expert Ghislain Coppejans.

The number of variables occurring when it comes to pre-dipping, and in this case particularly to towels usage, is huge and difficult to keep under control. We are not expecting the above to be your definite solution, but to get an effective milking whilst preserving udder health, it is vital that the teats need to be dry, clean and properly stimulated. Following our above procedures can contribute and almost guarantee this for sure.


Date: 19 May 2020

  • Summary:

    Easy fixes you can put in please to avoid mastitis and other teat infections on your farm! - Dairy towels