Last updated
Teats protruding from the udder of a cow Cow udders02.jpg
Teats protruding from the udder of a cow
Part of a milking device that fits over the teats of a cow. Bundesarchiv Bild 183-17369-0004, Barby, Bauer eine Melkmaschine prasentierend.jpg
Part of a milking device that fits over the teats of a cow.

A teat is the projection from the mammary glands of mammals from which milk flows or is ejected for the purpose of feeding young. [1] [2] [3] In many mammals the teat projects from the udder. The number of teats vary by mammalian species and often corresponds to the size of an average litter for that animal. [4] [5] In some cases, the teats of female animals are milked for the purpose of human consumption.


The quality of some domesticated animals is determined by the establishment of desired characteristics, such as teat size and placement. [6] [7]

Number and positioning in animals

The number and positioning of mammary glands and teats varies widely among mammals. The protruding teats and accompanying glands can be located anywhere along the two milk lines. In general most mammals develop mammary glands in pairs along these lines, with a number approximating the number of young typically birthed at a time. The number of teats varies from 2 (in most primates) to 18 (in pigs). Marsupials usually have 4 to 12 teats, [8] but the Virginia opossum has 13, one of the few mammals with an odd number. [9] [10] The following table lists the number and position of teats and glands found in a range of mammals:

Species [11] Anterior teats
Intermediate teats
Posterior teats
Total teats
Goat, sheep, horse
guinea pig
Cattle 0044
Cat 2248
Dog 422 or 48 or 10
Mouse 60410
Rat 62412
Pig 44412
Elephant, primate 2002

Disease of teats

A number of diseases can affect the teats of cattle. [12]

Goats are also affected by diseases of the teats. [13]


Teat is derived from the Old French or Dutch word, "tete" or the Greek word τιτθύς. [14] An alternative, but possibly not unrelated, would be the Welsh word "teth" or the Old English, "titt" which is still used as a slang term. The words "teat" and "tit" share a Germanic ancestor. The second of the two, tit, was inherited directly from Proto-Germanic, while the first entered English via Old French. [15] [16]

See also

Related Research Articles

Breast Region of the torso of a primate containing the mammary gland

The breast is one of two prominences located on the upper ventral region of the torso of primates. In females, it serves as the mammary gland, which produces and secretes milk to feed infants. Both females and males develop breasts from the same embryological tissues. At puberty, estrogens, in conjunction with growth hormone, cause breast development in female humans and to a much lesser extent in other primates. Breast development in other primate females generally only occurs with pregnancy.

Milk White liquid produced by the mammary glands of mammals

Milk is a nutrient-rich liquid food produced by the mammary glands of mammals. It is the primary source of nutrition for young mammals, including breastfed human infants before they are able to digest solid food. Early-lactation milk is called colostrum, which contains antibodies that strengthen the immune system and thus reduces the risk of many diseases. It holds many other nutrients, including protein and lactose. Interspecies consumption of milk is not uncommon, particularly among humans, many of whom consume the milk of other mammals.

Dairy Organization that processes milk

A dairy is a business enterprise established for the harvesting or processing of animal milk – mostly from cows or buffaloes, but also from goats, sheep, horses, or camels – for human consumption. A dairy is typically located on a dedicated dairy farm or in a section of a multi-purpose farm that is concerned with the harvesting of milk.

Nipple Part of the breast

The nipple is a raised region of tissue on the surface of the breast from which, in females, milk leaves the breast through the lactiferous ducts to feed an infant. The milk can flow through the nipple passively or it can be ejected by smooth muscle contractions that occur along the ductal system. The nipple is surrounded by the areola, which is often a darker color than the surrounding skin. A nipple is often called a teat when referring to non-humans. Nipple or teat can also be used to describe the flexible mouthpiece of a baby bottle. In humans, nipples of both males and females can be stimulated as part of sexual arousal. In many cultures, human female nipples are sexualized, or "regarded as sex objects and evaluated in terms of their physical characteristics and sexiness."

Orf (disease) Human disease

Orf is an exanthemous disease caused by a parapox virus and occurring primarily in sheep and goats. It is also known as contagious pustular dermatitis, contagious ecthyma, infectious labial dermatitis, ecthyma contagiosum, thistle disease and scabby mouth. Orf virus is zoonotic—it can also infect humans.

Mammary gland Exocrine gland in humans and other mammals

A mammary gland is an exocrine gland in humans and other mammals that produces milk to feed young offspring. Mammals get their name from the Latin word mamma, "breast". The mammary glands are arranged in organs such as the breasts in primates, the udder in ruminants, and the dugs of other animals. Lactorrhea, the occasional production of milk by the glands, can occur in any mammal, but in most mammals, lactation, the production of enough milk for nursing, occurs only in phenotypic females who have gestated in recent months or years. It is directed by hormonal guidance from sex steroids. In a few mammalian species, male lactation can occur. With humans, male lactation can occur only under specific circumstances.

In zoology, male lactation is production of milk (lactation) from a male mammal's mammary glands. It is well-documented in the Dayak fruit bat and the Bismarck masked flying fox. The term male lactation is not used in human medicine. It has been used in popular literature, such as Louise Erdrich's The Antelope Wife, to describe the phenomenon of male galactorrhea, which is a well-documented condition in humans, unrelated to childbirth or nursing. Newborn babies of both sexes can occasionally produce milk; this is called neonatal milk and not considered male lactation.

Dairy farming

Dairy farming is a class of agriculture for long-term production of milk, which is processed for eventual sale of a dairy product.


An udder is an organ formed of two or four mammary glands on the females of dairy animals and ruminants such as cattle, goats, and sheep. An udder is equivalent to the breast in primates and elephantine pachyderms. The udder is a single mass hanging beneath the animal, consisting of pairs of mammary glands with protruding teats. In cattle, there are normally two pairs, in sheep, goats and deer, there is one pair, and in some animals, there are many pairs. In animals with udders, the mammary glands develop on the milk line near the groin, and mammary glands that develop on the chest are generally referred to as breasts.


Milking is the act of removing milk from the mammary glands of cattle, water buffalo, humans, goats, sheep, and, more rarely, camels, horses and donkeys. Milking may be done by hand or by machine, and requires the animal to be currently or recently pregnant. The milker may refer either to the animal that produces the milk or the person who milks said animal.

Domestic pig Domesticated omnivorous even-toed ungulate

The domestic pig, often called swine, hog, or simply pig when there is no need to distinguish it from other pigs, is an omnivorous, domesticated even-toed ungulate. It is variously considered a subspecies of the Eurasian boar or a distinct species. The domestic pig's head-plus-body length ranges from 0.9 to 1.8 m, and adult pigs typically weigh between 50 and 350 kg, with well-fed individuals often exceeding this weight range. The size and weight of hogs largely depends on their breed. Compared to other artiodactyls, a pig's head is relatively long and pointed. Most even-toed ungulates are herbivorous, but domestic pigs are omnivores, like their wild relative. Pigs "grunt" and make "snorting" sounds.

Mammary ridge Primordium specific for the development of the mammary gland

The mammary ridge or mammary crest is a primordium specific for the development of the mammary gland.

Gray short-tailed opossum Species of marsupial

The gray short-tailed opossum is a small South American member of the family Didelphidae. Unlike most other marsupials, the gray short-tailed opossum does not have a true pouch. The scientific name Monodelphis is derived from Greek and means "single womb" and the Latin word domestica which means "domestic". It was the first marsupial to have its genome sequenced. The gray short-tailed opossum is used as a research model in science, and is also frequently found in the exotic pet trade. It is also known as the Brazilian opossum, rainforest opossum and in a research setting the laboratory opossum.

Milk fever

Milk fever, postparturient hypocalcemia, or parturient paresis is a disease, primarily in dairy cattle but also seen in beef cattle and non-bovine domesticated animals, characterized by reduced blood calcium levels (hypocalcemia). It occurs following parturition, at onset of lactation, when demand for calcium for colostrum and milk production exceeds the body's ability to mobilize calcium. "Fever" is a misnomer, as body temperature during the disease is generally not elevated. Milk fever is more commonly seen in older animals and in certain breeds.

Goat Domesticated mammal (Capra aegagrus hircus)

The domestic goat or simply goat is a subspecies of C. aegagrus domesticated from the wild goat of Southwest Asia and Eastern Europe. The goat is a member of the animal family Bovidae and the subfamily Caprinae, meaning it is closely related to the sheep. There are over 300 distinct breeds of goat. It is one of the oldest domesticated species of animal, according to archaeological evidence that its earliest domestication occurred in Iran at 10,000 calibrated calendar years ago.

Female Sex of an organism which produces ova

Female is the sex of an organism that produces non-mobile ova, the type of gamete that fuses with the male gamete during sexual reproduction. Most female mammals, including female humans, have two X chromosomes. Female characteristics vary between different species with some species having pronounced female characteristics, such as the presence of pronounced mammary glands in mammals. There is no single genetic mechanism behind sex differences in different species and the existence of two sexes seems to have evolved multiple times independently in different evolutionary lineages.

Lactation The regulated release of milk from the mammary glands and the period of time that a mother lactates to feed her young

Lactation describes the secretion of milk from the mammary glands and the period of time that a mother lactates to feed her young. The process naturally occurs with all post-pregnancy female mammals, although it may predate mammals. The process of feeding milk in all animals is called nursing, and in humans it is also called breastfeeding. Newborn infants often produce some milk from their own breast tissue, known colloquially as witch's milk.

Mastitis in dairy cattle

Bovine mastitis is the persistent, inflammatory reaction of the udder tissue due to physical trauma or microorganisms infections. Mastitis, a potentially fatal mammary gland infection, is the most common disease in dairy cattle in the United States and worldwide. It is also the most costly disease to the dairy industry. Milk from cows suffering from mastitis has an increased somatic cell count. Prevention and control of mastitis requires consistency in sanitizing the cow barn facilities, proper milking procedure and segregation of infected animals. Treatment of the disease is carried out by penicillin injection in combination with sulphar drug.

Mammalian reproduction Most mammals are viviparous, giving birth to live young

Most mammals are viviparous, giving birth to live young. However, the five species of monotreme, the platypuses and the echidnas, lay eggs. The monotremes have a sex determination system different from that of most other mammals. In particular, the sex chromosomes of a platypus are more like those of a chicken than those of a therian mammal.

Dry cow

A dry cow refers to a dairy cow that is in a stage of their lactation cycle where milk production ceases prior to calving. This part of their lactation cycle is referred to as the cows dry period and typically last between 40 and 65 days. Dry cows are typically divided into two groups: far-off and close-up. Once the cow has entered this stage, producers will seal the cows teat while following a veterinarian recommended, dry cow therapy for their herd. This dry period is a critical part of their lactation cycle and is important for the cows health, the newborn calf and future milk production as it allows the cow time to rest, eat and prepare for birth. During this time the cow will produce colostrum for the newly born calf.


  1. "teat - Wiktionary". en.wiktionary.org. Retrieved 12 August 2017.
  2. "Definition of TEAT". www.merriam-webster.com. Retrieved 12 August 2017.
  3. "teat - definition of teat in English - Oxford Dictionaries". Oxford Dictionaries - English. Retrieved 12 August 2017.
  4. Rowen D. Frandson; W. Lee Wilke; Anna Dee Fails (1 April 2013), Anatomy and Physiology of Farm Animals, John Wiley & Sons, pp. 449–451, ISBN   978-1-118-68601-0
  5. "Mammalian Milk". www.earthlife.net. Retrieved 12 August 2017.
  6. "Teat Structure Chart". American Boer Goat Association. Retrieved 2017-11-22.
  7. Blackburn, Lorrie. "More on Teats". The National Pygmy Goat Association. Retrieved 2017-11-22.
  8. Julian Lombardi (6 December 2012). Comparative Vertebrate Reproduction. Springer Science & Business Media. ISBN   978-1-4615-4937-6.
  9. "With the Wild Things – Transcripts". Digitalcollections.fiu.edu. Archived from the original on 2013-03-23. Retrieved 2013-04-05.
  10. Stockard, Mary (2005) Raising Orphaned Baby Opossums. Alabama Wildlife Center.
  11. Cunningham, Merle; LaTour, Mickey A. & Acker, Duane (2005). Animal Science and Industry. Pearson Prentice Hall. ISBN   978-0-13-046256-5.
  12. Ruegg, Pamela L. "Diseases of Bovine Teats and Skin - Reproductive System". Merck Veterinary Manual. Retrieved 2017-11-22.
  13. "Mastitis and Ketosis: Health Problems of Lactating Does". www.tennesseemeatgoats.com.
  14. Schrevelius' Greek Lexicon, Translated Into English, with Many New Words Added, Retrieved 11 August 2018
  15. Harper, Douglas (2001–2010). "teat". Online Etymological Dictionary. Retrieved 15 August 2011.
  16. Harper, Douglas (2001–2010). "tit (1)". Online Etymological Dictionary. Retrieved 15 August 2011.