What happens in the dry period, doesn’t stay in the dry period. The productive revenue potential of an average U.S. Holstein is nearly $4,500. That value can be compromised when cows calve with mastitis, leading to lowered milk production and increased milk waste and culling rates. Your cows’ next lactation begins on the day of dry off; your mastitis prevention should too.
A seven-year study of environmental streptococci intramammary infections found that 51% of these infections occurred in dry cows. If these infections are not addressed, you face increased production loss and increased expenses as soon as affected animals join the milking herd. Dry cow therapy can resolve existing infection and prevent next-lactation mastitis, saving you money in treatment costs and associated labor.
Preventing mastitis in dry cows can also have a positive effect on the major drivers of dairy profitability: Somatic cell counts, energy-corrected milk production per cow, death losses, net herd turnover costs, pregnancy rates and heifer survival. Healthy cows typically produce more milk, get pregnant faster, have lower somatic cell counts and stay in your herd longer. Dry cow therapy can be a low-cost way to prevent cows from more costly mastitis infections during lactation. It can also help protect the investment you’ve made in your herd’s next lactation while benefitting your dairy’s profit margins.
Follow these three steps to help prevent next-lactation mastitis:
1. Clear up lingering mastitis infections with an intramammary dry cow tube. Treating residual mastitis infections at dry off can help prevent the need for antibiotic use during lactation. Intramammary dry cow tubes also ensure that mastitis infections are not sealed inside the udder, where they can fester until diagnosed at the cow’s next lactation.
2. Prevent bacterial invasion. During the dry period, keratin plugs form in the teat and act as a physical barrier to bacterial entry. However, not all cows are able to form this plug on their own. A proven, well-researched internal teat sealant is an easy way to ensure that all of your cows have the protection they need.
3. Vaccinate against E. coli mastitis. Coliform intramammary infection rates are about four times greater during the dry period than during lactation.2 Vaccination can reduce the severity of these cases, which can eliminate the need for treatments and mean less production loss for your dairy.
Talk to your veterinarian to establish a dry cow management plan that ensures what happens in the dry period doesn’t affect your cow’s next lactation or your bottom line.