‘Selective dry cow therapy is the future for dairy’

Selective dry cow therapy will be used as a key driver in bringing down the quantities of antibiotics used within the dairy sector, according to Co. Tyrone veterinarian Eamon Donnelly.

We are actively recommending the approach to clients at the present time, said the Parklands’ veterinary group director.

“But it is only relevant to those farmers who are actively milk recording.”

Donnelly said that dry cow therapy was introduced as a means of blanket treating cows almost 60 years ago.

“It has done a tremendous job, but we have moved on a lot since the 1950’s. Milk recording is now available and we can isolate the actual bacteria that are causing mammary infections.”

At drying off we know that it is only necessary to tube cows that have encountered a mammary gland infection during their previous lactation.

Donnelly and his Parklands’ colleagues are actively encouraging selective dry cow therapy on farms with a consistent bulk cell count reading below 150,000.

Eamon Donnelly
Eamon Donnelly

“Assuming this situation prevails, individual cows should only be tubed on the basis of them having a high cell count or encountering a clinical mastitis infection during the previous seven months.

“But it is a management tool that can only be used on this farms where milk recording is practised.”

Donnelly said that the dairy sector must be actively seen to be tackling the issue of antibiotic usage within the industry.

“As a practice, we are taking a long term approach on this issue. We want to ensure that our clients have a sustainable and long term future.

“Currently, only 30% of the dairy farmers on our books milk record. But this figure has to rise considerably if selective dry cow therapy is to become a meaningful management tool across the industry as a whole.”