Implementing selective treatment of non-severe clinical mastitis in Flanders, Belgium via an “on-practice” approach

Antibiotic resistance in human- and animal-associated pathogens is a well-known and emerging problem (Singer et al., 2003; Dong et al., 2021). Although the contribution of the dairy sector to the antibiotic resistance problem in humans is quite low, we should act more responsibly when it comes to using antibiotics (Tel et al., 2012; Nobrega et al., 2018).

Antibiotics on dairy herds are typically used related to udder health and a reduction in the use is possible by maximizing prevention and by applying selective dry cow therapy. Implementing selective treatment of non-severe clinical mastitis is a valuable third option.

Recently, M-teamUGent at Ghent University, Belgium started a field trial as part of a larger Flanders Innovation and Entrepreneurship-funded project (HBC.2020.3192) together with Animal Health Service Flanders, Hooibeekhoeve and the Flanders Research Institute for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food. The project aims at transferring relevant scientific findings towards dairy practice through communication and training.

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Moving away from blanket dry cow therapy and supporting the adoption of selective dry cow therapy in Ireland – key messages from CellCheck.

The majority of antimicrobial use on dairy farms is for mastitis treatment and prevention. Dry cow antibiotic therapy (DCT) is the administration of long acting intramammary antibiotics at the time of dry off. This practice gained widespread implementation in the 1960’s as part of the ‘five-point plan’. Blanket dry cow therapy, which involves treatment of all quarters of all cows at dry-off, has been commonplace in Ireland for many years. However, the recent European Veterinary Medicines Regulation (2019/6) and the requirement to use antibiotics more prudently, means that preventive antibiotic usage in groups of animals, including dairy cows at the end of their lactation, is no longer acceptable. Only those animals with diagnostic evidence or a clinical diagnosis of infection at drying off should receive an antibiotic. This is known as selective DCT (SDCT). A key aim of the recent legislation is to protect human health, and to keep antimicrobials, – in particular antibiotics, working to treat disease. When antimicrobial resistance (AMR) develops and spreads, then antibiotics can no longer be relied upon to treat disease in people or animals. AMR is a serious global public health threat with potentially devastating consequences for us and our families.

Adopting a selective approach to dry cow treatment will require both a change in mindset and practice for many Irish farmers and their prescribing veterinary practitioners. To facilitate this change, CellCheck, the Irish national mastitis control programme, developed a Dry Cow Consult a number of years ago. The objective of this Dry Cow Consult was to enable farmers to engage with their trained nominated vet to develop farm-specific selective dry cow treatment (SDCT) plans, where appropriate.

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M²-magazine conversation with Paulina Lingers

Paulina Lingers is a veterinarian working with Växa in Sweden. Växa is the largest association of cattle farmers in the country with 200,000 dairy cows registered in their database, Kokontrollen.
She is a project leader and participant in a range of projects including communication and animal health. Her role includes developing new ways for better collaboration within the company’s various departments. M²-magazine asked Paulina about her background and her work.

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Research MSc thesis

Effects of intramammary infections on mammary gland growth and development in nulligravid heifers

Dairy heifers are a sizable financial investment for producers and therefore should enter first lactation healthy in order to yield good return on investment. Most mammary growth and development occur during a dairy heifer’s first gestation and this initial development determines the number of secretory mammary epithelial cells in the lactating gland. The heifer mammary gland prior to first gestation is primarily composed of the mammary fat pad and contains minimal mammary epithelium. With the initiation of pregnancy, this previously existing mammary fat pad is replaced by secretory mammary epithelium. Unfortunately, coupled at this time is the increased prevalence of intramammary infections (IMI) as a result of pathogenic bacteria entering the mammary gland via the teat canal and establishing an infection. Such IMI are expected to shortchange future mammary maturation and ultimately reduce the number and/or functional capacity of secretory mammary epithelial cells. However, how these IMI affect mammary gland growth and development in rapidly growing and developing mammary glands has not been investigated. Therefore, Dr. Pari Baker explored the effects of intramammary infections on mammary gland growth and development in nulligravid heifers.

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Post-milking teat protection

Post-milking teat disinfection, is there still something interesting to write about this topic? It has been widely covered since it has been proven to reduce the incidence of new intramammary infections. Although the state-of-the-art is well-known, we are often surprised by how this step is performed daily on the farm. This article will underline the importance of teat disinfection after milking. The worldwide regulatory positioning will give us some insights on how a teat dip is evaluated during the registration process. We’ll have a close look at the EU biocide directive, the main active substances, and other ingredients such as emollients and film forming agents that can be found in the teat dip/spray formulations in order to prevent mastitis. Finally, because post-milking teat disinfection is not effective if not properly applied on the teats, the principles of a correct application will be reviewed. The terms teat dip/teat dip solution/post-milking teat dip (PMTD) or teat disinfectant products will be used equally as general terms to describe solutions applied on the teats after milking.

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