Can I treat a cow with frostbitten teats without drying her up?
Answer: Drying your cow up is probably the easiest and most reliable treatment. The action of the milking machine or hand milking will irritate the scab and delay its healing. However, if you do not want to dry her up, and I don’t blame you, this is what I would do:At the end of each milking, dip the teat with a non-iodine based teat dip. You need to use a teat dip that is nonirritating. Consult your dairy dealer. Take some gauze that is sized to cover the scabbed area on the teat. Put some honey on the gauze. It does not have to be a lot, just enough to cover the scabbed area. Next, get some ?-inch cloth medical tape; cut it into two four- to five-inch pieces. Form the two pieces of tape into a “cross” and stick the gauze with honey onto the tape. Arrange this assembly on the teat so that the gauze and tape bandage covers the entire bottom of the teat and the scabbed area. Finish by cutting a six-inch piece of tape and wrapping it around the top of the teat so it secures the cross bandage to the teat. Honey is a very good antibacterial agent and also very healing. I used Vitamin E until I discovered honey.The scabbed frostbite tissue must heal from the inside out. It will take about 60 days. So that is about 120 bandages per teat that you will have to make. Since your cow is not bred yet, I would be inclined to try this treatment. It costs a lot of money to feed a dry cow. In addition, dairy cows breed back easier if they are lactating.Be aware that frostbit, scabbed teats make the cow very susceptible to Staphylococcus mastitis, which is a very bad condition. It remains in the cow’s udder and often is incurable. That is the risk you take.Of course, in hindsight, it is best to try and prevent frostbit teats. Check with your local dairy dealer. He will have a dip or powder that you can dip the teats in whenever it gets below 20 degrees F. They work very well. If for some reason you cannot find some frost dip, you can make some out of Vaseline and scarlet oil (get this from your vet). Put about 10 cc of scarlet oil in the small tub of Vaseline. Rub it into the Vaseline with your forefinger, incorporating only enough Vaseline to make a rose-colored mix. Apply this mix liberally to the teats after each milking. This scarlet oil/Vaseline mix is good to about 0 degrees F, including wind chill. It will soften the skin and provide a protective layer. The frost dips protect the teats to minus 30 degrees F or so.You must be patient because healing your cow will be a long process. Strive to be very clean when you are working with the affected teats. Staphylococcus bacteria are all over the scab. When you wash with soap her before milking, get each teat very clean.To learn more about topics related to livestock production, visit ATTRA’s Livestock and Pasture section at https://attra.ncat.org/attra-pub/livestock/.