Farm Ireland
Independent.ie

Wednesday 20 September 2017

Dry off dairy cows in the right way and eliminate existing udder infections

Animal Health Ireland has issued some timely advice for farmers who are drying off cows.

At the end of lactation the dry period provides an opportunity for the udder to repair and regenerate. Milk secretion shuts down and a keratin plug forms in the teat canal, sealing it off. This plug takes around two weeks to form and then begins to dissolve again in the last two weeks before calving. Therefore, the two weeks after drying off and the fortnight before calving are high risk times for picking up new udder infections.

Dry cow therapy (DCT) consists of intramammary antibiotic tubes and/or teat seal.

The objectives of DCT are to:

1. Eliminate existing udder infections at the end of lactation.

2. Prevent new infections over the dry period.

Animal Health Ireland reminds farmers to plan ahead when drying off cows:

•Review expected calving dates and plan ahead so the cow has a minimum six-week dry period (eight weeks is preferable).

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•Dry off low yielding cows (less than nine litres per day) earlier than the planned date.

•Where cows are yielding over 12 litres per day in the week before planned drying off, reduce feed intake, but not water access.

•Dry cows off abruptly and make sure you don't skip milkings.

•Treat any clinical cases of mastitis before drying off.

•Discuss appropriate DCT antibiotic selection with your vet, based on culture results, previous response rates etc.

•Organise trained help for drying off and allow sufficient time.

•Only dry off a manageable number of cows at a time.

•Have disposable gloves, teat wipes/cotton wool and methylated spirits and intramammary tubes organised.

•Mark the cow before you start treatment, in order to avoid any mistakes later.

•Milk out the quarter fully and disinfect the teats thoroughly with teat wipes or cotton wool and methylated spirits, starting with the teats furthest away from you.

•Treat the teats nearest to you first, followed by the more distant teats.

•After infusing the intramammary antibiotic tube, massage the contents up into the udder.

•Finish by thoroughly teat dipping all four teats.

•Don't allow cows to lie down in soiled areas after treatment and move cows to a clean environment.

•Record the cow ID, the type of tube used and date of treatment. This is essential to avoid residue issues after calving.

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