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|Why do we treat cows at dry-off|
|El Lechero Dairy Basics - Herd Health|
Infusing a specially formulated, long-acting antibiotic into every quarter of every cow on the day of dry-off (the last milking of a lactation) is commonly referred to as dry cow treatment or dry cow therapy. First developed over 50 years ago, dry cow therapy is a proven method of mastitis control and a key component of udder health and milk quality programs around the world.
Dry cow therapy helps control mastitis by 1) reducing the number of existing infections already present in the udder at the time of dry-off; and 2) preventing new intramammary infections that may occur during the dry period.
Dry cow therapy has several advantages over treatment of mastitis during lactation. During the dry period, higher dosages of antibiotics can be used safely and the retention time in the udder is longer, thus increasing the cure rate. The risk of contaminating the milk supply with drug residues is also reduced. In addition, tissue that has been damaged by mastitis has an opportunity to be regenerated before freshening.
Before treatment, dip teats in an effective germicide and dry after 30-45 seconds with single-use paper or cloth towels. Then clean and disinfect each teat end by scrubbing with a cotton ball or pledgette soaked in 70% alcohol, using a separate piece for each teat.
Carefully remove the protective tip from the treatment tube cannula. Do not use tubes if the unprotected cannula has become contaminated in any way, e.g., dropped on the floor, swatted by the cow’s tail, etc.
Insert the cannula only partially up into the teat canal and express all of the contents. Immediately after treatment, teats should be dipped in an effective teat dip. When preparing the teats for treatment, start on the far side of the udder first, followed by the teats on the nearside.
Treat the quarters in reverse order (near side first, far side last). Be sure to identify treated cows and remove them from the milking herd to prevent antibiotics from entering the milk supply.
Proper dry cow management is extremely important for maintaining udder health in a dairy herd. Dry cow therapy is one tool in a comprehensive mastitis control program for the dry period. Other tools include internal and external teat sealants, housing and environmental management, proper nutrition, and vaccination programs.
An effective dry cow mastitis control program will result in cows calving with less mastitis, a lower herd somatic cell count, increased production of high-quality milk, and greater dollar returns. EL