By Dr Kelly Plozza
It is that time of year again, with a lot of farms busy drying off cows for the upcoming calving season. It is important to make the correct decisions about Dry Cow Therapy so you don’t cost yourselves money with increased mastitis next year. Dry Cow Therapy is used for several reasons including:
- Curing sub-clinical infections
- Preventing mastitis during the Dry period
- Reducing mastitis at calving
Dry Cow Therapy is one of the most important ways to reduce your incidence on Mastitis
and reduce your bull cell count.
1. Cure Sub-Clinical Mastitis
The most effective time to treat subclinical udder infections (mastitis that has no visible signs i.e. no clots in the milk), is at drying off. For subclinical infections, antibiotic Dry Cow Therapy gives over 90% cure rate for most of the common bacteria, as during the dry period the long acting formulation remains in the udder at high levels for longer periods.
2. Prevent Mastitis during the Dry Period
The period immediately following the last milking is a high risk period for mastitis therefore it is very important that the correct recommendations for administering dry cow be applied.
The following steps are recommended for drying off:
- ONE WEEK prior to the final milking date STOP feeding all concentrates.
- Cows should be given dry cow treatment when producing between 5L and 12L per day. If cows are producing more than 12L, reduce feed intake and keep milking until production has reduced to 12Litres per day.
- DRY OFF ABRUPTLY; DO NOT skip days and preferably DO NOT skip milkings.
- Do not leave cows in laneways or yards immediately after drying off. Place the cows in a dry, clean paddock for 3-4 days after drying-off.
3. Reduce Mastitis at Calving
Mastitis at calving is one of the biggest mastitis related problems seen in this area. Research has shown that all DCT products reduce mastitis at calving to some degree because of enhanced teat plug formation, and reduced sub-clinical mastitis. Also, by reducing the number of infections in the post dry-off period, there are reductions in the amount of mastitis pathogens in the herd. A significant advance in the prevention of mastitis at calving is with the use of Teatseal.
In addition to DCT, Teatseal™ has become an essential part of dry cow management. It works by maintaining an adequate (artificial) teat plug throughout the dry period and it has been shown to reduce the incidence of mastitis at calving by 69%, as well as reduce the incidence of subclinical infections at first herd test (cows with ICCC over 250,000) by 21%, making it a cost-effective solution to calving-related mastitis.