Our Organisation Search
Quick Links
Toggle: Topics

Considering Selective Dry Cow Therapy


We have all heard about the new legislation that will be in place in January 2022. This has been brought about because of the increase in resistance to antibiotics of bacteria that cause illness in humans. George Ramsbottom, Teagasc Dairy Specialist has more information on SDCT.

Critically important antibiotics need to be kept for human use only. This legislation will influence how we use and select our antibiotics, for example the preventative use of dry cow antibiotics will no longer be allowed.

We need to prepare for this as much as we can and focus on the practices, like good mastitis control, milk recording and reviewing ICBF farm reports to make this transition as successful as possible. You don’t have to go on a solo run away from blanket dry cow therapy. There is plenty of support available from your vet, from Animal Health Ireland (AHI) through the Dry Cow Consult and from your Teagasc advisor.

What happens at drying off has the potential to influence the establishment of udder infections not only during the dry period but also during the subsequent lactation. The risk of an intramammary infection occurring is up to 7 times higher during the early dry period and prior to calving than during lactation.  The cow’s immune system is lower at these times. Thus good management is of vital importance when the drying off event is taking place. To get the best results we need to reduce the risks of introducing new infection at the time of drying off.

A number of short video clips dealing with drying off have been prepared. The first is to help you to decide if your herd is a suitable one to practise selective dry cow therapy on.

The second video clip is to help you pick out the cows that are the most suitable within your own herd for selective dry cow therapy.

In addition to these video clips we recommend that you have a look at the following two short videos. The first, prepared by AHI, discusses preparing for the dry period.

The second, prepared by Teagasc, discusses the actual drying off process itself.

When drying off, it’s important to record the drying off event date and method. Doing this allows you to monitor how successfully the different methods of drying off were. How to record dry off events on the ICBF website is shown in the following video clip.

The key messages that we want you to take home today are:

  • Preparation is key for a good dry off event - work back from calving dates to ensure correct dry off dates are achieved.
  • Milk recording is essential is to identify cows with high SCC and to help select cows for selective dry cow therapy.
  • On the day that you’re drying off, have extra help available. It’s a minimum two person job and don’t do it alone or mistakes will be made.
  • The importance of good hygiene at the time of drying off cannot be over emphasised.
  • Having the equipment that needed at drying off within reach will help you to achieve a high standard of hygiene.
  • Don’t forget about hygiene post drying off - cows are particularly susceptible to infection in the first and again in the last two weeks of the dry period.
  • Carry out a milk recording ideally within a month of calving to allow you to review your dry period.

Finally if you’re thinking of trying out selective dry cow therapy, suitable herds can avail of a free, Department of Agriculture, Food & the Marine (DAFM) sponsored, veterinary consultation provided by trained vets. You can establish if you are eligible or not and apply for one of the consultations by clicking here