Once a calf is born the most important piece of equipment to your operation is the cow's udder. The dam must be able to provide all of the newborn calf's nourishment. With out functioning teats, a well-balanced udder and adequate milk production, the best genetics and high weaning weight EPDs will go unrealized. A cow may produce plenty of milk, but if a calf can't get to it because of deformed, low or ballooned teats, you will lose money.

Since teat size and udder structure are highly heritable, producers who do not stick to rigid culling practices will soon find that unacceptable teats and udders have become all too common in the heard. Evaluating udder condition is difficult because replacement heifers can not be evaluated until after they have calves. Complicating matters even more is the fact that most instances of teat and udder problems don't appear until a female has calved several times. For this reason producers should resist the desire to keep heifers out of cows who themselves have teat and udder problems. Likewise, the teats and udders of a sire's dam and if possible his grandam, should be evaluated prior to keeping replacements out of a particular sire.

Many udder problems have come about as a result of the quest to increase milk production. Higher milk production will result in more stress on the udder so don't select maternal traits solely on increase milk production. Udder and teat quality comes in varying degrees, but in general udders should be well balanced with good fore-udder attachment and a level udder floor. Teats about the diameter of your ring finger and about the length of two finger joints fall within the acceptable range.