Selective Dry Cow Therapy – It’s time to bite the bullet!!!
By Séamus Nolan,
In the period from November 1st to December 20th the majority of dairy cows in Ireland are dried off in preparation for the subsequent lactation. Traditionally at drying off, cows were treated with an antibiotic dry cow tube and teat sealer as standard procedure. The purpose of this was to kill any overhanging bacterial infection that may exist in the udder and deal with any infection that may arise during the dry period. But what if there was no infection there to start with?? Are we treating an infection that doesn’t exist?
Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is a worldwide problem that affects all walks of life. Resistance develops where antibiotics are used incorrectly and in some cases are used where there is no need for them at all. Many cows are infection free at drying off and therefore with good animal husbandry do not need such treatments. With this in mind from 28th January 2022 the blanket use of antibiotic tubes on dairy cows at drying off will be banned. From this date dairy farmers will have to prove (via milk recording) that they have a requirement for antibiotic use. Selective dry cow therapy (no antibiotic administered – just teat sealer) has been practiced by many farmers for several years with excellent results.
How does it work?
- Minimum 4 recordings per year per cow with the final recording within 30 days of dry-off.
- Good records of mastitis cases throughout the year.
- Culture & sensitivity testing to identify actual causal agent of mastitis cases and their sensitivity to different antibiotics.
- Selection of cows with average somatic cell count (SCC) of <100,000 for the year with no test over 200,000 and no mastitis cases during the current lactation( www.icbf.com )
- Excellent hygiene when administering the teat sealer.
- Attention to detail in relation to cubicle and housing hygiene.
Dairy farmers should bite the bullet this winter and start with the very cleanest of cows (<50,000 SCC). At a minimum you must milk record in 2021 in preparation for the 2021/2022 dry period. Free advice is available through your Vet and Animal Health Ireland www.animalhealthireland.ie
Teagasc provides a Local Advisory and Education service to farmers. They have offices based in Roscommon Town (Tel: 090 6626166), Castlerea (Tel: 094 9620160) and Longford Town (Tel: 043 3341021), You can find us on Facebook @Teagascroscommonlongford and twitter @teagascRNLD.