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Teat disinfectant - part of the solution to reducing SCC

Teat disinfectant - part of the solution to reducing SCC

With milking in full swing, Martina Gormley, Teagasc Dairy Specialist, explains why now is a good time to evaluate post-milking teat disinfectant products.

New intramammary infections caused by contagious pathogens can be reduced by at least 50% when post-milking teat disinfection is carried out. 

There are many different types of teat disinfectant products on sale in Ireland such as:

  • Barrier teat disinfectants;
  • Teat foams;
  • High viscosity liquids;
  • Thin liquids;
  • Liquid concentrates;
  • Ready-to-use liquid disinfectants. 

Some of the main active ingredients in products include chlorine dioxide, iodine, chlorhexidine and lactic acid, with combinations of some of these ingredients also used. Unfortunately, there was little knowledge known regarding the effectiveness of these products within an Irish context.

Recent Teagasc studies have evaluated 99 teat disinfectant products commercially available in Ireland against the main mastitis-causing bacteria (Staphylococcus aureus, Streptococcus uberis and Escherichia coli) isolated from the teat skin surface. Evaluations of these products were performed within a laboratory setting, using the disc diffusion method. This method has previously been applied to evaluate the effectiveness of antibiotics, but has now been adapted to test teat disinfectants. 

Summary of key findings

  • Products react differently in the presence of organic matter (pre-spraying dirty teats);
  • High concentration Chlorhexidine (6000ppm) product was 18% better than iodine-based product;
  • Lactic acid and chlorhexidine and Lactic acid and salicyclic acid products were between 13% and 17% better than iodine-based product;
  • 40% difference in efficacy between most effective and ineffective product;
  • Organic matter caused a 2% - 71% decrease in efficacy.

With a 40% difference in efficacy, its definitely important to evaluate what products you use. Reducing organic matter or dirty teats can cause a big difference in terms of how effective the products are. Also in terms of ingredients, iodine-based products yielded the lowest results, with concentration Chlorhexidine (6000ppm) and Lactic acid and salicyclic acid products giving up to 18% better efficiency.

Also read: Managing somatic cell count this spring