It is almost that time of year again – time to dry off the cows, and have a sleep in. The process of drying off is important and it is essential to get it right.
The dry period is a chance for the cow’s udder to regenerate and recover from the milking period as well as prepare for calving and the next lactation. To make the most of this recovery time, cows need to be dried off correctly.
The use of dry cow therapy (DCT) is an important aid in the treatment of current infections and the prevention of new infections. There are several dry cow therapy options available now – short & long acting antibiotics, teat sealants or combination therapy using both antibiotics and sealant together.
Each farm is different, so talk to your vet during your milk quality consultation to decide on the best drying off plan for your herd.
Hygiene is very important. Cleaning the teats before insertion can be tedious, but it is a critical step. Every teat needs to be cleaned with a new wipe/cotton ball. There have been several cases where bacteria, such as Pseudomonas, have been introduced as a result of faecal matter on the end of the teat not being removed/cleaned prior to DCT insertion. Many farmers decide to dry the herd off in several different mobs for various reasons (low condition, low production, age etc.). Identification of cows which have received dry cow therapy is critical. There have been cases where cows have been dried off with DCT and somehow found their way back into the milking mob, causing chaos (inhibitory substance grades etc.).
Heifers coming in with mastitis in the first four days of lactation can be a costly problem, as well as being a nuisance to treat. Heifer mastitis can be reduced by the use of teat sealants. Trial work carried out by Cognosco, the research division of Anexa Animal Health, has shown that use of Teatseal in heifers pre-calving reduces subclinical mastitis at calving by 65% and clinical mastitis in early lactation by 50%. Talk to your vet about whether Teatseal is an economical option for your heifers.