Tech Tips: UNL develops app for udder and teat scoring
According to Rick Rasby, University of Nebraska–Lincoln (UNL) Extension beef specialist, selecting and culling based on conformation of teats and udders may be considered convenience trait selection.
However, selecting against poor teats and udders increases profit potential. The increase in profit is attributed to increased calf performance, reduced calf sickness, increased longevity of cows and reduced labor inputs.
To help producers manage their herds, UNL created “NUBeef-UTS” for smart phones and tablets that help teach and document udder and teat scoring. The app is available at the App Store in iTunes and the Google Play Store for a small price.
“One of the things that producers may want to think about documenting during calving season is udder and teat conformation. This is one of the traits that many people don’t take a hard look at,” Rasby says. “The ideal time to get an udder score for beef cows is within the first 24 to 48 hours after calving.”
Rasby says symmetric teats and udders that have a high attachment in the rear, holding the udder above the hock, are ideal.
“When thinking about the importance of teat and udder conformation, remember, that is where the calf is getting the milk,” Rasby says.
“Long, pendulous udders and teats are detrimental to the calf,” he continues. “Anything that might hang fairly low and drag in the mud, from a herd health standpoint, is not good.”
The Beef Improvement Federation (BIF) has developed a standard for teat and udder scoring utilizing a scale of one to nine, with nine being very good.
For those unfamiliar with teat and udder scoring, the app provides example images for each score.
“This app gives the producer the opportunity to go out and take pictures of their cow herd and then go back and compare them to the standard,” says Rasby. “All the information can be stored and saved on the app.”
Unlike “NUBeef-BCS,” the organization’s app for body condition scoring, “NUBeef-UTS” does not contain a written component at this point.
Forms on udder and teat scoring are available at beef.unl.edu.
Rasby mentions that, although the BIF does not take into account pigmentation of the udder, pigmentation is desirable. The pigmentation acts as a guard against sunburn of the teat and udder that can be caused by direct sunshine or reflection of the sun off snow.
This information, coupled with the data collected by the app, may help producers make important management decisions.
“Maybe down the road, if a producer needs to do some deep culling,” says Rasby, “going back and looking at teat and udder conformation may help producers identify cows that they should consider culling.”
Rasby addressed producers at the Beef Improvement Federation Symposium held June 12-15 in Oklahoma City, Okla. Kelsey Tramp is the assistant editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.