German dairy research center proves selective dry cow therapy is possible

Until recently, blanket dry cow therapy was standard practice and long considered the best way to avoid mastitis during the more vulnerable parts of the production cycle, before drying off and at the end of the dry period. While infusing all quarters with a long-lasting antimicrobial at the time of dry off has advantages, researchers have found that blanket dry cow therapy is no longer a necessary practice for well-managed herds. Dr. Mark Holsteg of the Dairy Cattle Health Service (Rindergesundheitsdienst) in Germany explains how the selective dry cow therapy program works at Haus Riswick, an agricultural research and training center located in Kleve, Germany, and the results of its implementation.

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Five years ago, Holsteg started the trial at Haus Riswick with easy benchmarks. Cows suitable for selective dry cow therapy should have a somatic cell count of less than 150,000 at dry off, he said. They cannot have had mastitis in the previous three months, and they cannot be a known carrier of Staphylococcus aureus because the pathogen is still prevalent in the herd.

“Cows we know have S. aureus are put into a different therapy group,” he said.

In the days leading up to drying off, cows eligible for participation must have a

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