With increasing spotlight on reducing antibiotic use, some farmers are doing more selective dry cow therapy.

It is important to remember that dry cow antibiotics have played a very important role in combating mastitis issues and reducing herd cell counts. It’s selective for a good reason, so if you’re thinking of going down this route it must be done carefully.

We recommend a cautious start. Before you start make sure you “know your enemy”, take mastitis samples (before treating) and get some bacteriology results. Work with your vet to identify and remove these cows from the herd if they do not respond to treatment. Also as milk buyers often require incremental reductions in antibiotic use, a cautious start is sensible to achieve goals.

Full monthly recording data, together with accurate mastitis treatment records are essential when reviewing Somatic Cell Counts (SCCs) during current and previous lactations.

If in any doubt, always use an antibiotic in conjunction with a sealant. If there is infection and you are only using sealant you will put a plug on the infection. Meticulous cleanliness is crucial at drying off as it is commonplace for infection to be introduced at this stage.

Not administering teat sealant hygienically risks a mastitis breakdown. Sealants do cost money. However if you get a speck of dirt on the tube, for instance if a cow kicks out and it touches her leg, don’t use it – change it for a new one. You must consider the value of the cow compared to the value of that tube.

Cows should be as clean as possible, but the treatment area and person must also be clean and dry. The best idea is to sort the cows during milking (keep standing) and then as soon as milking has finished and the parlour has been cleaned down, run the cows back into the parlour. Take your time administering the sealant. Don’t dry off on a day when you have to rush, the last cows to be treated are as important as the first.

To start the process

  • Pre-dip cows
  • Clean with an individual antiseptic wipe – all teats furthest away to closest
  • Individually wipe teat ends with cotton wool soaked in surgical spirit, nearest teat first. Once one teat is wiped, tube and work closest teat to furthest away.
  • For cows identified as needing sealant only, administer sealant utilising the correct infusion technique and taking care not to massage into the udder by holding the top of the teat.
  • Administer antibiotic tubes to cows identified as needing treatment followed by sealant.
  • Apply tape to the tails of treated cows to ensure easy identification at calving.

We’ve recently done a trial in conjunction with Farming Connect on SDCT. We will be taking a look at the results at our meeting on Wednesday 13th February at The Golden Lion in Rossett. If you want to know more about starting SDCT and the associated benefits, then please come along to the meeting. Alternatively, if you want any advice we can do either a training session with your vet and staff. Or you could use the VetTechs to help select the cows and administer the dry cow antibiotic / sealant after milking.


For cows that average a low SCC during lactation but spike at 200,000 cells/ml or higher during a single recording, a new method of identifying subclinical mastitis in individual quarters can be used.

QScout analysis pinpoints affected quarters and means only these need to be treated during lactation and at drying off. The results are instant and highlight individual quarters with high cell count just prior to drying off. QScout is used by our Lancashire practice and the aim in future is to only tube and seal offending quarters.