Dairy producers are being strongly advised to critique their dry cow management following a global supply shortage of Orbeseal teat sealant.

Pfizer Animal Health, which produces the teat sealant used on 40-45% of UK dairy cows at drying off, said a batch failure in December had meant supply was limited. As a result vets are voicing concerns over the potential impact at farm level and specifically late dry period mastitis infection rates.

Pfizer’s national veterinary manager, Matt Williams explained supply issues had been caused by increased global demand for the product coupled with a batch failure based on package labelling.

Consequently supplies were being allocated to veterinary surgeons on a pro-rata basis, based on previous sales. “We don’t know officially when the next batch is likely to be delivered,” said Mr Williams. “However, it is likely allocation of stock will continue in such a way as pressure continues.

“There could potentially be a shortage of Orbeseal at farm level, but it is not clear whether it will get to the point where supplies run out – it will depend on individual practices.”

Vet Andy Biggs of the Vale Vet Group said his practice would have problems fulfilling requirements. “We are likely to run out of Orbeseal in the next few days or week and our next delivery will not be for some time.”

He said the shortage would impact on all dairy producers, with spring calvers starting to dry off now being particularly hit.

“It’s a great shame, particularly at this stage in winter housing when there is a bigger risk of Strep uberis infection, that Orbeseal will not be available to address infection rates.

“No antibiotic dry cow therapy will cover cows against mastitis infection at the end of the dry period. Orbeseal gives protection in this late dry period when cows are particularly at risk of infection.”

Vet Maarten Boers of the Livestock Partnership said the practice was likely to run out of the product in the next month. “I have serious concerns over the shortage of Orbeseal. There is no doubt late dry period infection rates will increase, resulting in higher cell count animals and an increase in clinical cases in the first month of calving.”

Producers should talk to their vets to discuss dry cow management and ensure management is “tip top” – something they should be striving for anyway, with or without the supply of teat sealant, added Mr Biggs.