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Choosing cows for Selective Dry Cow Therapy (SDCT)

Nicholas McKenna, Dairy Specialist, gives an overview of using the Milk Recording Somatic Cell Count (SCC) ICBF report to assist with choosing cows suitable for Selective Dry Cow Therapy (SDCT). He outlines guideline criteria for farmers new to SDCT and advises on a good standard of record-keeping

In the latest, 'Let's Talk Dairy' webinar, Dairy specialist Stuart Childs discussed selective dry cow therapy (SDCT), and how to use ICBF reports to select the most eligible cows for its application on Irish dairy herds and how to avoid choosing problem cows. ICBF’s online facility is most useful for this process in order to work through and filter the live interactive reports that will be used to select the eligible cows for SDCT. There are many different criteria that can be used to select eligible cows but Teagasc advice is to be critical and set the bar low to select cows that are “as clean as possible” in order to avoid any possible problems or issues associated with SDCT.

The Milk Recording SCC Profile

The ICBF report that is used to select cows is the ‘Milk recording SCC’ profile (above). This shows all the cows in the herd, their calving and drying off dates, number of mastitis treatments, average somatic cell count (SCC) for both the previous and current lactation as well as the SCC for each of the last 6 milk recordings.

Using the filter option users can select cows that have not had major cell count issues during the current lactation as well as filtering out cows that have had 1 or more cases of mastitis as they are not considered most eligible for beginners using SDCT. The criteria that can be used for farmers who have not previously used SDCT is as follows:

  • Average previous lactation SCC of 50,000 or less
  • Average current lactation SCC of 50,000 or less
  • Along with no cell count of 100,000 for an individual milk recording

Teagasc are taking this stringent approach where farmers have not used SDCT before, advocating that farmers set the threshold low to reduce the chances of submitting cows that have had SCC issues.

In order to accurately decide which cows are eligible for SDCT, regular milk recording along with recording all cases of mastitis for each cow is very important. Farmers can record mastitis cases using their farm software package or by texting MAST followed by the cows jumbo number to the ICBF text number (089 4577663), this will then register a case of mastitis for that cow.

Record keeping

The importance of good record keeping and event recording cannot be over-emphasied. Milk recording data, mastitis cases, dry off procedure and dry off dates are critical in order aid decision making and understand how well SDCT works on a farm.

Caution is also advised and it is a case of “finding your feet” in regards to SDCT as with time and experience farmers can begin to increase the number of cows receiving teat sealers only and grow their own confidence with SDCT.

All of the webinars in the 'Let's Talk Dairy' series can be viewed here ‘Let’s talk Dairy’ webinar where you also have the option to register for the series.