Milk leakage is a common occurrence during the dry off period. Recent studies in European herds have found that incidence is higher than 24% in dairy herds. Milk leakage occurs as the result of an excessive udder pressure due to the milk accumulation and may be exacerbated by a damaged closing mechanism (i.e. the teat canal or the sphincter).
Milk is a perfect substrate for bacterial growth and milk leakage is a sign that the teat canal is not properly closed. This means that the cows that leak milk are at an increased risk of bacterial infection and developing mastitis.
For these reasons, milk leakage should be carefully monitored after dry-off.
How to spot milk leakage
- The observation of milk leakage should be carried out while the cow is standing.
- As leaking can be intermittent it is advised to check cows for milk leakage at 24h, 34h and 48h after dry-off to be sure to detect any milk leakage.
- Each observation should last at least 30 seconds per cow
- Milk leakage in cows treated with an internal teat sealant may be more difficult to detect, so allowing this observation time is even more important in these animals
- A four-well plastic paddle or a mirror may be used to improve the observation.
Milk leakage is considered to be present if the following is observed:
- A stream of milk coming from the teat
- A milk drop on the teat end
- Milk on the floor under the udder
If you detect milk leakage after dry-off, contact your local veterinarian for advice.