A lack of expertise at farmer and vet level is a “limiting factor” in successful dry cow therapy was the consensus from the recent UK mastitis panel meeting.
Training in the correct procedures around drying off and in teat sealant administration will be critically important as the number of UK dairy farms adopting selective dry cow therapy protocols increases, the panel heard.
Sponsored by MSD Animal Health and representing practising dairy vets, research and Government, the panel agreed while use of selective dry cow therapy was at a relatively low level in UK dairy herds, a momentum was building that could see as many as half of the nation’s herds adopting the practice within a few years.
Martin Behr, technical manager at MSD and chairman of the UK mastitis panel meeting, said: “There is growing pressure from the milk processors and some supermarkets to see a reduction in antibiotic use on dairy farms, and dry cow therapy is one area under the spotlight.
“We know, from our own training workshops with vets and farmers, the level of expertise in administering teat sealants, for example, is relatively low.
“Only about 30% of vets attending these workshops had any experience at all in administering a teat sealant.”
Opportunity for vets
The view, from many on the mastitis panel, was there was a knowledge gap on farms when it came to dry cow therapy protocols and this presented a significant opportunity for veterinary practices.
Dr Behr said: “Mastitis control in general offers vets an opportunity for proactive engagement with farmers, but it is a notoriously difficult area to establish routine work.
“With the pressure on farms to adopt selective dry cow therapy and the need for training, there is, perhaps, a new opportunity for practices with a real interest in mastitis control to build stronger and more preventive strategies with dairy farmers.”
Veterinary practices with an interest in training on dry cow therapy and teat sealant use are advised to contact an MSD account manager for details of future workshops.