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Swelling of the mammary gland is an important health status sign for clinical exploration and palpation is a routine diagnostic tool for mastitis detection in dairy cows. Data on repeatability or validity of specific methods of udder palpation are rare. The overall objective was to study the validity of estimates of udder firmness generated by palpation and by using a validated dynamometer. Specifically, we set out to determine within-observer repeatability and between-observer repeatability in 2 specific experiments. Additionally, we compared a 4-point palpation scoring system with estimates obtained with a dynamometer in this study. In a pilot trial, we determined the range of udder firmness of 25 cows and developed an in vitro model for udder firmness. This model enabled training of the observers and allowed investigating a 4-point palpation scoring system. In vivo, udder firmness was determined before and after milking by palpation and by using a dynamometer. Within-observer repeatability based on estimates of udder firmness of 25 cows obtained by 3 observers on a single day by palpation was 0.968. Within-observer repeatability of estimates of udder firmness of 25 cows obtained with the dynamometer by a single observer was 0.997. The coefficient of variation of the same measures was 9.1%. To determine between-observer repeatability (palpation: 0.932; dynamometer: 0.898), udder firmness of 100 cows was measured on 4 different days by 9 observers in experiment 2. Udder firmness in dairy cows could be measured repeatably with the dynamometer and by palpation, especially when performed by a single observer. Estimates of udder firmness generated by palpation and with the dynamometer were moderately related (correlation coefficient=0.54). Training of observers through the pilot trial or practical experience in the 4 d of the study in experiment 2 did not improve the correlation. Further research is warranted to understand how udder firmness develops in infected udders.