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First steps to dry cow therapy

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Dry cow therapy can reduce the use of antibiotics in a herd. However, having the confidence to use products correctly and understand why it’s necessary is the key to success.

 

We caught up with Disease? Not On My Farm! ambassador Fraser Jones to find out what he learnt at a recent training day at his farm in Welshpool. As a result of the training, he decided to implement selective dry cow therapy.

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Who attended the training day?

“The training day was for vets aiming to help them understand more about selective dry cow therapy. Organised by MSD Animal Health, it was facilitated by expert mastitis vet Andy Biggs and included a practical session on aseptic technique and how to insert tubes into the teat canal correctly.”

 

Why did you decide to implement dry cow therapy?

“There’s a lot of pressure from the public and industry to reduce antibiotic usage and it’s something I’m keen to do. Having listened to Andy’s talk I’m now convinced selective dry cow therapy is the way forward. If you can achieve healthy, productive cows and reduce the cost of medicines it’s got to be a good thing.”

 

How’s it been going so far?

We’re currently deciding which cows to trial first, selecting those with cell counts of less than 100. We’re being cautious to start with and working with our vet to see how the cows respond. I’d like 20% of the herd to just receive teat sealant and then go from there. We already have an average cell count of below 200, in line with requirements for our milk processor, Müller. If we can maintain performance levels in the herd and reduce our antibiotic usage it will benefit us in the long run.”

 

What did you learn that has had the biggest impact?

“At the training day, the vets agreed my staff had accurate technique which was reassuring. However, we have still managed to refine the process further. We now change gloves for every process to prevent the transfer of bacteria. So, we wash all the cows’ teats and then change gloves to do the dry cow therapy as we did on the training day. We also have two people to complete the job, allowing one person to remain completely sterile while the other person passes them opened tubes and disinfectant. This minimises the risk of transferring bacteria.”

 

What advice would you give to other farmers who are unsure about selective dry cow therapy?

“It’s daunting when you don’t know the outcome on the cow’s health so chatting through products and techniques with your vet will help give you confidence and minimise teat damage. I also think selective dry cow therapy is something we should all do together to help reduce antibiotic use.”


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Focus points at drying off

Selective dry cow therapy:

  • Prevent new infections during this time
  • Treat infections from lactation

Improve immunity

  • Suitable feed and supplements
  • Keep them happy, in optimal conditions

Reduce spread of bacteria

  • Pay attention to mucking out and moisture
  • Make sure bedding is clean and in good condition
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