8 December 2000


TREATING heifers with dry cow therapy a few weeks before calving can help reduce somatic cell counts and mastitis cases in subsequent lactations, according to US work.

Speaking at the British Mastitis Conference, University of Ten-nessee researcher Steve Oliver said that in the US, a high percentage of heifers mammary glands were infected during late gestation, at calving and during early lactation.

His work, looking at using dry cow therapy in an attempt to reduce potential problems, had been successful, he told the audience.

Using either cloxacillin or ceph-apirin, he found that treating heifers with dry cow therapy 14 days before calving reduced infection rates and boosted milk yield. It also avoided concerns over antibiotic residues in milk, except where heifers calved down early.

"There is a significant advantage from eliminating infection from a milk yield point of view – treated heifers gave 5726kg of milk in their first lactation, compared with 5195kg from untreated heifers.

That gave a net return of $175/heifer after taking antibiotics, labour, towels and teat dip costs into account." &#42