Teat-end scoring systems
There have been various attempts to devise a scoring system for dairy cow teats which can be used to ascertain the damage done by poor milking practices or badly set-up and maintained milking equipment which can indicate the likelihood of a cow being predisposed to mastitis due to teat end condition. The generally accepted system scores teat end condition on a scale of 0 to 4 (although a similar systems scores from 0 to 5, or from 1 to 4), with teats in the best condition scoring 0:
- 0 - Defines a "perfect" teat end. The teat sphincter may be visible (a thickened ring around the teat orifice), the ring itself will be smooth.
- 1 - The teat orifice is slightly more open, appears rougher and has lost its circular appearance.
- 2 - Some small roughness appears in the form of keratin fronds, protruding up to 2mm from the raised teat orifice.
- 3 - A very rough orifice, with keratin protruding all around the teat sphincter.
- 4 - A rough keratin protrusion of up to 4mm, with the sphincter giving the impression of having been turned inside out.
Teats scoring 3 and 4 are likely to be subjected to an increased likelihood of mastitis, due to the increased potential of infection caused by the damage to the teat end.
Teat scoring, like any scoring system, is best performed by the same individual over the whole herd and every time it is done, so that results are consistent and any trends can be recorded over several months. It needs to be done thoroughly, and this means a good light source is required for good observation. Any teat irregularities or lesions such as hyperkeratosis, cyanosis and oedema should be noted.
If more than 20% of teats show evidence of lesions then further investigatory work will be necessary. Problem areas could include vacuum and pulsation irregularities, worn teatcup liners, overmilking (due to badly-adjusted Automatic Cluster Removers (ACRs) for example, or any poor milking techniques.