With the new processor regulation changes (especially Tesco and Arla 360) coming into action this October and the increasing spotlight on reducing antibiotic use, there is further pressure for farmers to start or do more selective dry cow therapy (where you use just sealants on healthy low cell count cows rather than long acting dry cow antibiotics). When done right it can be very effective, but please exercise caution and speak to your vet before starting.

Selective dry cow therapy and processor regulation changes

A cautious start is recommended. Our VetTech team are on hand to offer SDCT training on farm for your team if you are looking to start. They will cover all the essentials and have a look at your data with you to ensure your whole team understand the importance of each step.

Approaching SDCT in line with processor regulation changes

When it comes to drying off, it is important to remember that dry cow antibiotics have played a very important role in combating mastitis issues and reducing herd cell counts, so if you are thinking of going down the SDCT route it must be done carefully – it is “selective” for a very good reason! In cases where there have been disasters, it has generally been when individual mastitis levels have not been checked or unclean administration of the sealants.

Before you start:

As a guide, before you start you want to 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 if goals are to be achieved.

Know the data:

Full monthly recording data, together with accurate mastitis treatment records are essential when reviewing Somatic Cell Counts (SCCs) during current and previous lactations. It is also advised to use a CMT test on the morning of drying off to check for any subcutaneous quarter infections that the cow may be fighting since her last milk recording (also remember the SCC from the monthly milk recording is an average of all four quarters)

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.

Stay clean:

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.

Not only should cows be as clean as possible, but the treatment area and the person must be clean and dry too. 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 and valuable as the first.
These are all the elements that your vet and VetTech’s can assist with, so please get in touch if you have any questions or would like to book in some on farm training.

With the new Tesco standard coming into action in October, the VetTechs can also help by doing training on BCS and the new cleanliness and housing audit, before the official review. All the VetTechs are ROMS approved for mobility scoring and we can also help identifying areas that could be an issue for lameness.