The aim of this study was to evaluate whether the severity of hyperkeratosis (HK) in the teats of dairy cows can be assessed by a dielectric measurement. The study focused on surveying the occurrence of hyperkeratosis in a total of 241 teats of lactating dairy cows. A scoring system consisting of four categories was used to macroscopically assess the severity of HK. Additionally, the dielectric constant (DC) of all teats with milkability was measured in a double iteration with the MoistureMeterD (Delfin Technologies, Kuopio, Finland) on four different days. The Spearman rank correlation coefficient revealed a negative correlation between the DC and HK score (rs = -0.55 to -0.36). The results of the regression analysis showed that the DC values differed significantly between healthy teat ends (≤2) and teat ends with HK (≥3). Thus, the non-invasive measurement of DC provides a promising method of objectively assessing the occurrence and severity of HK.
Keywords: dairy cow; dielectric constant; sensor; teat end hyperkeratosis; water content.