The information below has been supplied by dairy marketers and other industry organizations. It has not been edited, verified or endorsed by Hoard’s Dairyman.
When it comes to mastitis, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of milk, which means even the
small things can make a big difference. Preventing mastitis infections in the dry period is your
opportunity to set cows up for successful production and good health in the next lactation.
Let’s look at what’s at risk if cows calve in with mastitis after the dry period. One study found that cows
with a high first-test somatic cell count (SCC) that was greater than 200,000 cells/mL produced an
average of 1,583 pounds less milk than cows with a normal first-test SCC.1 Those animals with a high
first-test SCC also were:
- Open 17 days longer
- Three times more likely to have a case of clinical mastitis
- Three times more likely to leave the herd
So, how can you avoid these production losses?
By ensuring each step of a comprehensive dry cow program is done, and done correctly. It’s one thing
to know what needs to be done, and it’s another to make sure it’s happening in real time in the parlor.
Here are four of the most commonly missed steps that can make or break a dry off program:
1. Clean teat ends completely. This may seem easy, yet many farms simply fail to do it correctly.
It is especially important to clean the teat ends prior to administering any products to prevent
pathogens from being pushed into the teat canal. Don’t forget to clean teats thoroughly (again)
between the application of a dry tube and a teat sealant.
2. Prevent cross contamination. Once a teat is properly cleaned, it’s essential to avoid reaching
across that teat end. To avoid cross contamination, employees should work from farthest to
closest teats when cleaning, but closest to farthest teats when administering products.
Additionally, make sure your employees wash their hands or change gloves between cows to
prevent the spread of bacteria.
3. Squeeze the teat base. When applying an internal teat sealant like Orbeseal®, squeeze off the
teat canal at its base to prevent the product from entering the udder. Teat sealants serve as a
replacement for the keratin plug, so they need to remain at the end of the teat.
4. Tell your employees WHY. Your employees want to do what is best for your herd, but it might
be tempting to speed through the process if they don’t understand the importance of each step.
During training, emphasize why dry cow management is important for a productive lactation.
Then, clearly explain what steps your employees need to take, so they fully understand their
role in setting your herd up for success in the dry period.
These steps are crucial to the success of a comprehensive dry off program that includes:
- Treat: Help clear up subclinical mastitis infections with a dry cow tube.
- Seal: Block pathogens from entering the udder with an internal teat sealant.
- Protect: Prevent new mastitis infections with an Escherichia coli (E. coli) vaccine.
Following dry off best practices and utilizing a comprehensive dry cow program can help prevent
mastitis and decrease SCC, ultimately protecting your dairy’s productivity.1 Learn more about how
mastitis prevention during dry off can help protect your dairy’s profitability.
Refer to the ORBESEAL label for complete instructions on proper administration at dry off and
removal at freshening.
businesses. Building on more than 65 years of experience in animal health, Zoetis discovers, develops,
manufactures and commercializes medicines, vaccines and diagnostic products, which are
complemented by biodevices, genetic tests and precision livestock farming. Zoetis serves veterinarians,
livestock producers and people who raise and care for farm and companion animals with sales of its
products in more than 100 countries. In 2019, the company generated annual revenue of $6.3 billion
For more information, contact:
1 Kirkpatrick MA, Olson JD. Somatic Cell Counts at First Test: More Than a Number, in Proceedings. NMC Annu Meet 2015;53-56.