Ha-pea Cow = Ha-pea Vet!

Claire Whittle brings us this teat granuloma case of the month. Yes, she has full credit for the title of the article.

One miserable morning in January I was asked to check a cow at the end of a routine that had a blocked quarter. She could be milked by hand but as soon as a cup was applied she would stop milking. We got her into the parlour and after some kerfuffle trying to get her to stand still – tail lifted, kick bar applied, removed, applied again and a nice dollop of muck to the back of my neck (she knew exactly what she was doing!) I could have a proper feel of what was going on.

This girl had a teat pea or to be more vetty – a teat granuloma.

What are teat granulomas?

Teat granulomas are small fibrous lesions. They are either free-moving or attached to the inner mucosal lining of the teat via a stalk . Their cause isn’t completely understood but they are thought to be associated with chronic inflammation.

This one was free-moving. This meant it was fairly easy to milk the cow by hand because you could move it higher up the teat cistern. However the teat pea was pulled down the teat canal when the vacuum was applied. This caused a complete blockage. Although she had been hand drawn for a couple of days, the affected quarter was already feeling the effects of not being milked out completely. It was warm, swollen and painful to touch.

After some discussion about the best way to deal with it, we opted to attempt removal.

The removal

After administering local anaesthetic, I tried to milk the pea out by hand but it was a bit too big. Next step was to try and widen the teat canal. We have some interesting looking tools at our disposal in the picture below.
The ones on the left, technically known as a Hudson Teat Spiral although I prefer ‘Curly Wurly Teat Twizzler’ are useful for removing peas that are attached to the teat lumen.

The teat knives on the right are smooth at the top as they are inserted into the teat canal but sharp on the bottom to open up the teat end as you pull them out. Starting with the smallest knife, I went up two sizes before the pea finally popped out with the most satisfying ‘plop’ onto the floor!

I couldn’t help but smile as the milk came flowing out – what a relief for her!

I advised pain relief as she would definitely feel it once the local wore off. Yes it’s true, all the fiddling around may have been enough to induce mastitis. This girl needed a course of tubes after the event. But you’re stuck between a rock and a hard place with these because she was well on her way to a case of mastitis with the pea in situ.

Interestingly, three weeks later – I was called to re-examine her as she had another pea! Why did she get a second one? Was it trauma associated with the first removal? Does she have some pathology higher up in her bag?
We might never know the root of the problem. However, this one came out far easier than the previous one and she’s been milking well ever since!

Job done!