Dry cow – why change?

Almost all dairy farmers in our practice will now have had a discussion with one of vets about product choices for dry-off this autumn.

While Cepravin, Bovaclox and Teatseal have been our primary products for some time, this year Bovaclox, our short acting dry-cow was unexpectantly taken off the market.  This meant a re-evaluation of what dry cow products to offer our clients.

Over the last five seasons we have encouraged selective therapy when drying off. Those cows with a high somatic cell count and/or a history of mastitis are treated with a dry-cow antibiotic with or without a teat sealant. For the remainder we recommend treating with a teat sealant alone.

In addition, we have also been encouraging greater use of culture for mastitis cases to identify the types of bacteria involved as well ensuring the most effective antibiotic is used.

For some this has meant submitting mastitis milk samples to one of our clinics. For another group of farmers, the use of an on-farm test system called Mastatest and this has returned some important results.

Within 24 hours the Mastatest system allows the farm to have information that both identifies the bacteria as well as that bacteria’s antibiotic sensitivity (which antibiotics will be effective at supressing the bacterial growth).

This allows all mastitis cases to begin treatment on penicillin based intra-mammary products and then when the Mastatest result comes in, either continuing with the penicillin treatment or changing to the appropriate antibiotic for that bacteria.

This on-farm testing is resulting in a decrease in milk loss through shorter withhold periods and longer term we are preserving the effectiveness of the antibiotics.

Anti-microbial resistance (AMR) is an emerging concern.  Can we preserve the effectiveness of these products, not only for use on farm but also to ensure they stay effective for human use? It is scary how easily resistance genes from one group of bacteria can transfer into other bacteria that specifically affect our lives.  See our antimicrobial resistance article.

Looking at the Mastatest results on farms we service is highlighting some bacteria now require higher concentrations of the antibiotic cloxacillin to be effective, i.e. antibiotic resistance to cloxacillin is building.

Added to this, this year, the World Health Organization reclassified another of the important mastitis antibiotics, ampicillin, as critically important for human health. Bovaclox contains both ampicillin and cloxacillin.

So, our choice of dry cow for those cows with higher somatic cell counts and/or a history of mastitis infection, has had to change.  We are still recommending Cepravin for our long acting product and we have selected Cefa-Safe as our primary short-acting dry cow antibiotic.

Cefa-Safe contains the antibiotic cephapirin which has activity against both gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria.  It is short acting, offering protection against new intramammary infections for up to 35 days (7 weeks), with a milk withhold of 28 days.  As for any short-acting dry cow, Cefa Safe is ideally paired with Teatseal to provide cover during the entire dry period.

Cefa Safe helps to cure residual mastitis infection in the udder during that first month after dry-off while Teatseal prevents infection entering the teat canal as the cow bags up prior to calving.


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