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Selective Dry Cow Therapy


New European legislation will take effect from January 28th, 2022 which will mean that we will no longer be allowed to administer dry cow tubes to all quarters of all cows in the herd (blanket dry cow therapy). Stuart Childs, Teagasc Dairy Specialist has more information on the new legislation.

In light of increasing resistance, new European legislation will take effect from January 28th, 2022 which will mean that we will no longer be allowed to administer dry cow tubes to all quarters of all cows in the herd (blanket dry cow therapy).

In the past, we used dry cow antibiotics for both treatment of udder infections but also to prevent infection. It is this prevention aspect of blanket dry cow therapy that the new legislation targets as this is seen as unnecessary or unwarranted use of antibiotics and could potentially fan the flames of the resistance fire. Use of antibiotics to treat known infection will still be allowed. However, it will require evidence of infection in the form of milk recording data and culture and sensitivity analysis for your each farm.

Cows with somatic cell counts of <200,000 for the full lactation are deemed as not having an infection and under the new legislation would be deemed as ineligible for antibiotics. This is a going to mean a big change in how we approach drying off cows as we will no longer be able to rely on the preventative action of dry cow antibiotics.

In order to position yourself for selective dry cow legislation, you should consult with your vet or advisor to see if you are in a position to try sealer only on a proportion of cows this winter. The following diagram will help you decide whether you might be in a position to try some SDCT this winter.

You are now halfway on the journey towards practicing selective dry cow in your herd. The second part of this race will be won with good practice in the process of drying off. The three key words for the drying off process are; HYGIENE, HYGIENE, HYGIENE!

  1. Identify the cows to be dried off with sealer only and draft following milking
  2. Wash out the parlour and get organised (gloves, methylated spirits, cotton wool, teat sealers, a table, a bucket for rubbish, eat something?)
  3. Small numbers (6-8 cows) at a time in the parlour to minimise dunging and contamination of the working environment
  4. Thoroughly clean the teats, seal, teat spray and mark well to identify that cow has been dried
  5. Stand in a clean yard for a period to allow teats to close
  6. Move to paddock or clean dry cubicles and maintain high standard of cubicle hygiene in general but in particular in the 2 weeks post dry off and again in the 2 weeks prior to calving

The process may sound like a lot of work, however, the same process should be used if applying antibiotic tubes.

Take your time and don’t try to dry too many cows in one day

Remember that it will take at least 5 minutes per cow and possibly longer to do the process correctly, so that is 12 cows per hour. The average herd size in Ireland is close to 90 cows so that means that the drying off process is going to take over 7.5 hours to complete! Therefore it is important to allow sufficient time for the process.