In the months before drying off, continue all recommendations from the lactation period, and consider these decisions:
- Which cows will need to dried off early, and when?
- Which cows need to be culled based on this year's mastitis records?
- What dry cow treatment approach to use at drying off?
- Who will administer the dry cow treatments? Have they been trained sufficiently?
- How will milk yields be reduced in the last 1-2 weeks before drying off?
- How will cows be managed for the first 3 weeks after dry off?
Dry Cow Strategy
Guideline 14 - Decide dry cow management strategy. Antibiotic Dry Cow Treatment (DCT) is used to treat existing infections that have not been cured during lactation and reduce the number of new infections that may occur during the dry period. Internal Teat Sealants (ITS) are used to protect uninfected quarters during the dry period and at calving and extend protection provided by DCT.
Guideline 15 - Culling persistently infected cows. Culling cows is the only way to eliminate some infections from the herd. Since these chronically infected cows represent a source of infection for other cows, culling can help to protect healthy, young cows that are the future of the herd.
Guideline 16 - Dry off abruptly taking steps to reduce yield. The method used to dry off cows can influence how many udder infections establish during the dry period. The aim is to shut down milk secretion and seal the teat canal as rapidly as possible - this usually takes about two weeks.
Guideline 17 - Administer dry cow treatments as recommended. Administration of antibiotic dry cow treatment (DCT) or internal teat sealants (ITS) has some hazards, for cows and operators so it is critical that it is carried out properly.