Selective Dry Cow Therapy

Dry Cow _2017-11-03Drying -Off _2017-11-03

Example Scenario:
Farm F is a 400-cow spring calving Jersey-cross herd producing 5,000 litres of milk/cow each year.

It is approaching drying-off time and the farmers want to review the protocols.

Clinical mastitis case rate is 90 cases/100 cows each year, bulk milk somatic cell count is 210,000 cells/ml and the last milk recording shows that 25% of the herd had somatic cell counts of over 200,000 cells/ml at any one of the previous three recordings.

Example treatment options

Option 1 – Inappropriate use
Give all cows antibiotic dry cow therapy, an internal teat sealant, and inject high cell count cows with a macrolide.

This approach uses approx16mg/PCU of antibiotic for all these treatments together. There is no evidence that injectable antibiotics will have any meaningful impact on cure rates; in most herds, >90% of mastitis infections will be cured with antibiotic dry cow tubes alone.

Option 2 – Improved approach
Give all cows an internal teat sealant at drying off. Treat only those with a high cell count (>200,000 cells/ml) with antibiotic dry cow tubes at drying off.

This treatment approach uses approx1.4 mg/PCU antibiotic and may also result in less clinical mastitis in early lactation. Strict hygiene is essential.

Option 3 – Best practice
In addition to Option 2, the AHDB Dairy Mastitis Control Plan is introduced in consultation with the vet.

This approach uses approx1.4mg/PCU antibiotic in the short term as Option 2, but also reduces the number of new cases. Long term antibiotic use will decline and animal health will improve.

Visit to find out more about antibiotics and UK farming, and access facts, statistics, science and reports. The website also contains best practice case studies and inspiration for farmers who want to work with their vets to ensure they are using antibiotics responsibly.