3 July 1998

Cow hygiene advice

DRY off cows abruptly and ensure high standards of hygiene when administering dry-cow therapy to reduce the incidence of summer mastitis, advise vets.

Tiverton, Devon, vet Andrew Biggs says attention to managing dry cows now could pay dividends well into the next lactation. Hygienic administration of treatments, including dry-cow tubes, should stop bacteria such as Streptococcus uberis entering the udder – which can then lie dormant until the next lactation when they cause mastitis, he says.

Blanket dry cow therapy treatment, prompt treatment of clinical cases, use of teat dips and relevant therapies, maintaining milking machines and operating a culling policy are advisable, he says.

Andrew Norton, vet based in Marlborough, Wilts, urges producers not to be swayed by promotional offers when choosing a dry-cow treatment. "Go for the one you have confidence in," he says. "Youre using it to prevent mastitis, not to get a free gift."

At the same time, treat cows with a fly repellent, suggests Mr Norton. Although the presence of flies is no greater than any other year, their close association with summer mastitis incidence should still be of concern. "It only takes 24 hours of sunny weather for there to be an explosion in the fly population," he adds.

Where use of dry-cow treatment is likely to be restricted, particularly for organic producers, Mr Biggs suggests moving dry cows to open grazing land, away from woods and watercourses where flies are naturally attracted, to reduce the risk of infection.