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Vet Microbiol. 2012 Aug 17;158(3-4):353-9. doi: 10.1016/j.vetmic.2012.02.032. Epub 2012 Feb 28.

The association between teat end hyperkeratosis and teat canal microbial load in lactating dairy cattle.

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University of Applied Sciences and Arts Hannover, Faculty II, Department of Microbiology, Heisterbergallee 12, 30453 Hannover, Germany.


Most pathogens that cause bovine mastitis invade the udder lumen through the teat canal. Amino acids and intercellular lipids may support microbial colonisation of the teat canal epithelium by pathogenic microorganisms. The aim of this study was to investigate the association between teat end hyperkeratosis, which is induced by machine milking, and teat canal microbial load. Contralateral teats, which differed in teat end hyperkeratosis scores, were identified in a split-udder experiment. The teat canal's microbial load was evaluated using the wet and dry swab technique. Staphylococcus (S.) aureus, Streptococcus (Sc.) uberis, Escherichia (E.) coli and other coliforms were detected by agar plate cultures. The positive detection of E. coli and the log(10)-transformed E. coli load of a teat canal were significantly associated with the teat end hyperkeratosis score (P<0.05). There were significant differences with respect to positive findings for E. coli, as well as the microbial load of E. coli and Sc. uberis, between the less-calloused and the more-calloused teat of a pair. For S. aureus, no significant associations between hyperkeratosis score and teat canal microbial load were detected. In general, a teat with a highly calloused teat end had an increased teat canal microbial load compared with the contralateral teat, characterised by a lower callosity. The results of the present study indicate that the environmental pathogen load is associated with teat end hyperkeratosis. Further research is needed to identify factors that may affect teat canal microbial load in lactating dairy cattle.

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