An effective mastitis management plan includes deciding which cows should receive what dry cow products. Two main products are dry cow treatments and internal teat sealants, described below.
Dry cow treatments
These contain long-lasting antibiotics to treat cows with existing cases of mastitis. Use them immediately after the last milking of a cow’s lactation; don’t use them to treat glands or cows that have been dried off previously.
Internal teat sealants
These don’t contain antibiotics and can be used independently to protect uninfected cows during the dry period, or to support dry cow treatment for infected cows. This is known as combination treatment and is often recommended for cows with a high somatic cell count to support the cure of existing infections and prevent new cases of mastitis in the dry period.
Use internal teat sealants after the last milking of lactation, and immediately after dry cow treatment for combination treatment.
Talk to your vet about the best approach for your herd. The aim is to use as few treatments as possible to gain the best outcome for your herd and cows, while also reducing the risk of bacteria developing resistance to antibiotics.
Step 1 Plan the day and people required
- Make sure all staff receive appropriate training and are supervised.
- Dry cows off in batches – assume one person can safely treat about 20 cows per hour.
- Include extra helpers/tail holders.
Step 2 Ensure strict hygiene
- Thoroughly clean every teat end.
- Scrub teat ends with cotton wool balls soaked in 70 percent methylated spirits, or teat wipes (one per teat).
- Clean one teat, then infuse treatment(s) before cleaning next teat.
- Keep tubes clean and dry before use.
Step 3 Use procedures to minimise mistakes
- For cows needing different treatments, draft out and dry them off at a different time.
- Make sure the same person does the final clean of teats, before infusing product.
- Pick up enough tubes for only one cow.
- Use the same order to treat the glands.
Step 4 Use ‘MRS T’ for dry cows
- MARK cows that are dried off early and receive any treatments.
- RECORD details of all cows being treated.
- SEPARATE treated cows from milking cows.
- TREAT well with teat spray after applying treatments.