Farm Ireland

Friday 19 January 2018

Keeping annual treatments as challenge-free as possible

CHECKLIST: AHI’s Cell Check advice says herds with SCC counts under 200,000 are suitable for teat sealant only at drying off
CHECKLIST: AHI’s Cell Check advice says herds with SCC counts under 200,000 are suitable for teat sealant only at drying off

Peadar O Scanaill

* Milk recording all herds and examining somatic cell count (SCC) levels of individual cows is a cornerstone to reducing the reliance on dry cow antibiotics;

* Animal Health Ireland's cell check programme says that herds with less than 200,000 SCC are being suitable for considering teat sealant only in certain cows. Let's push our advisors to give us a clear and definitive way of getting as many cows as possible into the category that uses teat sealants only at dry-off time;

* Make the drying-off period as disease-free and challenge-free as possible for every cow. Remember, the mammary gland is at its most vulnerable in the first few days of the dry period;

* Following the final milking, clean the teats and glands thoroughly and dry the area using disposable dry wipes. Use copious teat dip as a dip and not as a spray. Ensure the dip-cup is cleaned and refreshed regularly;

* Put some thought into the process when it comes to preparing the cow herself. Don't dry her off simply because the date suits the farm. Dry her off when it best suits the cow. For example, don't dry her suddenly because of quota problems. Plan ahead, reduce her feed intake. Ensure she's below 12 litres/day and ideally if she's naturally ready, she'll be heading as low as seven litres er day;

* Going to once-a-day milking or once every other day is not good practice as it repeatedly breaks the natural seal that's forming in the cow's teat;

* Dry cows should never remain in the milking herd as the routine of milking continues to stimulate milk production;

* Keep feed levels low for the first few days after dry-off, but always leave full access to water;

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* If those dreaded dry cow antibiotics are to be used, then let us do more milk sampling to find out what bacteria are lurking in our cows. These samples are sent for bacterial sensitivity tests to check what type of antibiotic is effective in that cow or that batch for dry-off. If we have to use antibiotics then we must use the right one at the correct dose and time;

* Where SCC levels are seen to rise early in the post-calving period, we can assume the problem lies in the dry period;

* When it comes to treating deep mastitic infections, we find that the dry-cow antibiotics are often more effective than the milking-cow preparations. All farms have unique sets of challenges so consult your farm vet when treating any chronic or acute cases of mastitis.

Irish Independent