Udder anatomy

Understanding udder anatomy is essential for a thorough knowledge of the lactation process. 

The main parts of the udder are:

  • Median suspensory ligament: Composed of two elastic layers of tissue, it attaches the udder to the cow’s abdomen and separates the left and right halves of the udder.
  • Lateral suspensory ligaments:  Composed of fibrous tissue (non-elastic), provides support for the udder. These ligaments partially envelope the right and left halves of the udder and do not stretch as the gland fills with milk.
  • Parenchymal tissue: Functional tissue involved in milk production, mainly composed of alveoli and ducts.
  • Interlobal ducts: Primary ducts that drain milk from multiple lobes to the udder cistern.
  • Udder cistern: Area located above the teat, at the base of the udder.
  • Teat cistern: Middle part of the teat between the base of the udder and the Furstenberg’s rosette.
  • Furstenberg’s rosette: Valve located between the teat cistern and the teat canal.
  • Muscular layer: Composed of involuntary muscle fibres, allows the teat canal to open and close to release milk.
  • Teat canal: Final part of the teat, connected to the exterior through the sphincter.
  • Teat sphincter: Tip of the teat where the teat canal opens to the exterior.


Main lesions of the teats


Purple-coloured swelling due to defective pulsation with inadequate teat massage.

Compression ring

Swelling at the base of the teat.


Overproduction of keratin at the teat end. It may be due to excessive vacuum, overmilking or to an environmental problem (e.g. cold). Teat condition should also be an argument in genetic improvement.


Inflammation of the teat cistern



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