The cornerstone of mastitis control is a Dry Cow Therapy (DCT) programme. Dry Cow Therapy has two functions; to cure existing infections and to prevent new infections during the dry period and around calving time.
The ability of antibiotic DCT to cure existing infections and prevent new infections in the early part of the dry period is well known. The antibiotic products currently available have a protective period in the udder of up to 10 weeks. The udder is reasonably resistant to new infections through the mid-dry period. However, the risk of infection increases significantly in the two weeks prior to calving - just when protection from the antibiotic DCT is tapering off. NZ work also shows that up to 50% of teats have not formed a teat plug 7 days after dry off, and up to 5 % of teats never form a teat plug. Almost all new clinical infections are in ‘open teats’ - those in which a teat plug has not formed.
Adding Teatseal® to your DCT programme means the udder is protected right up until the Teatseal is removed by suckling or hand stripping.
The gold standard approach to DCT is combination therapy:
Use a dry cow antibiotic with the best cure rates
Add Teatseal to protect from new infections for the entire dry period
There are several studies that support the use of combination therapy, including a 2008 NZ study which showed combination therapy reduced clinical mastitis during the dry period and at calving by 50%, compared to antibiotic alone. Research in the UK by Dr Eric Hillerton, Dairy NZ’s Chief Scientist, also showed new infections were reduced by 50% in cows where combination therapy was used compared to using antibiotic alone.
As well as preventing new infections at calving, the benefits of combination therapy also extend into lactation. A study in the UK measured mastitis levels out to 100 days post calving. There was a 50% reduction in the number of clinical mastitis cases in the first 100 days after calving compared to antibiotic alone. An Australian study also showed that combination therapy reduced subclinical mastitis (defined by high SCC) by about 20%. At the first herd test, the average SCC of combination therapy treated cows was 100,000 cells/mL lower, compared to cows receiving DCT alone.
We have a cost benefit calculator available to use during your Milk Quality Consult to help assess the economic benefit of combination therapy on your farm. Cutting back on DCT, although saving money short term, can often cause bigger problems and negate any perceived savings as well as taking up valuable time treating mastitis cases. Your Milk Quality Consult is a great chance to go through the options.
Click here to view the TeatSeal Administration Video