Cow teats© Tim Scrivener

UK dairy farmers supplying Arla Foods will have to comply with new standards on the use of antibiotics in dry cows from this month. 

Arla’s farm assurance programme, Arlagården, includes a further 16 standards in addition to the Red Tractor rules, which Arla continues to support.

This will bring its 3,000 UK farmers in line with their global counterparts in Denmark, Sweden, Germany, Belgium and Luxembourg.

See also: Only 68% of farmers have heard about selective dry cow therapy

The rules regarding antibiotic use in dry cows will require producers in their first audit, which commenced on 1 October, to have outlined with their vet how they plan on adopting selective dry cow therapy (SDCT) in their herd.

This is where antibiotics are targeted at cows that need it rather than blanket treatment of a herd at drying off.

Producers and their vet will have to fill out a form and agree a strategy for adopting SDCT. A vet will have to sign the form rendering them compliant.

For the second audit producers will have to have moved towards SDCT, where possible.

“This is just the beginning of our journey and it is essential that we build on these foundations to deliver the standards in the long term.”
Peter Edmondson, Arla

An Arla spokesman told Farmers Weekly they will be gathering data from the forms over the next 18 months to see what the barriers are to SDCT.

“Ultimately though it is vet recommendations that will decide how antibiotics are used at drying off.”

See also: Best practice drying off advice

Peter Edmondson, Arla’s consultant vet, added: “It is absolutely crucial Arla farmers work closely with their vets to agree how they will meet the new standards relating to antibiotics.

“This is just the beginning of our journey and it is essential that we build on these foundations to deliver the standards in the long term.”

As part of the preparation towards the roll-out, Arla has carried out a series of meetings with more than 300 vets to discuss the new standards and is in the process of running workshops with farmers focusing on antibiotic use.

Additional standards

The additional 15 standards will include nine rules on milk production, two relating to housing and four specific to animal medicines and husbandry.

For example, one of the milk production rules outlines use of chemical pesticides and fly sprays in the milk storage room.