Several mastitis-causing pathogens are able to colonize the bovine teat canal. The objective of this study was to investigate the association between the treatment of sawdust bedding with a commercial alkaline conditioner and the bacterial counts on teat skin and in the teat canal. The study used a crossover design. Ten lactating Holstein cows that were free of udder infections and mastitis were included in the study. The animals were bedded on either untreated sawdust or sawdust that had been treated with a hydrated lime-based conditioner. Once a day, fresh bedding material was added. After 3 weeks, the bedding material was removed from the cubicles, fresh bedding material was provided, and the cows were rotated between the two bedding material groups. Teat skin and teat canals were sampled using the wet and dry swab technique after weeks 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6. Staphylococcus aureus, Streptococcus uberis, Escherichia coli and other coliform bacteria were detected in the resulting agar plate cultures. The treatment of the bedding material was associated with the teat skin bacterial counts of Str. uberis, Esch. coli and other coliform bacteria. An association was also found between the bedding material and the teat canal bacterial counts of coliform bacteria other than Esch. coli. For Staph. aureus, no associations with the bedding material were found. In general, the addition of a hydrated lime-based conditioner to sawdust reduces the population sizes of environmental pathogens on teat skin and in teat canals.