A Better Dry-Cow Treatment

At a recent meeting of the National Mastitis Council (NMC) one of the discussion groups zeroed in on dry cow treatment. It was pointed out that although blanket dry cow antibiotic therapy was still recommended by NMC, and still allowed in the US, it was no longer acceptable in some countries because of ever more restrictive regulations.

Among the alternate strategies discussed were: taking a more whole-farm approach to prevention and restricting treatment to only the infected quarters as revealed by culturing.

Here is a better idea - a four-step program that relies on the physiology of the bovine beast.

·      When it’s time to dry off a cow just quit milking her.  A cow must have a tight udder for five or six days for her hormonal system to get the message to quit producing milk. Milking her out to relieve the pressure and discomfort before this time is up only prolongs the process

·      After the five or six days, when the udder swelling begins to recede, sanitize the teats and milk out some milk. Normal appearing milk indicates a healthy udder.  If this is the case, completely milk-out the udder, sanitize the teats and rejoice in the knowledge that for now at least the udder is healthy. 

·      Occasionally at this time the milk will show abnormalities such as chunks, clots, watery, slimy, bloody streaks or anything that does not look like normal milk. In that event, milk out the udder, begin your treatment of choice and rejoice that you have discovered the problem before it gets worse. 

·      Continue the treatment, check the milk and strip out the udder every few days for as long as necessary to clear up the problem. If you let her go completely dry while she has an infection, she will almost certainly have the same problem when she freshens. 

I realize these procedures go against the grain of most dairy advisors.  I am under no illusions that many will try this method.  I do know that the cows owned by the brave souls who do try it will greatly benefit. 

For more about the NMC meeting visits:   http://www.dairyherd.com/news/blanket-dry-cow-therapy-questioned-pillar-milk-quality