Dry Cow Therapy Authorisation
March 2024

As many of you might have heard already, the criteria for authorising dry cow therapy has changed.  Last year the Veterinary Council updated their professional standard for veterinarians regarding authorising dry cow therapy.  The Veterinary Council of New Zealand is a body which upholds and regulates veterinary standards.  It is the body in which veterinarians must be registered to in order to practice in New Zealand.

The new standard released can be found at https://hub.vetcouncil.org.nz/authorisation-of-dry-cow-therapy.

A big part of these changes is to ensure antibiotic therapy is only used in infected animals. Overuse of antibiotics leads to antibiotic resistance. Blanket dry cow therapy means a lot of healthy (non-infected) animals get antibiotic treatment that they do not need thus increasing antibiotic exposure and chance for resistant bacteria.  

High risk farms have a higher chance of having infected animals fall into the ‘clean cow’ category. Therefore, these farms will still be allowed to do blanket antibiotic therapy.  The high-risk farms will have at least 3 of the following criteria:

·        BMSCC average above 250,000

·        More than 2% of herd with mastitis over the dry period

·        More than 10% of herd had mastitis in first month of lactation.

·        More than 25% of herd over 150,000

·        More than 15% of cows had a significant increase ISCC over the dry period (going from <150,000 at last herd test to>150,000 at first herd test of season)

Farms with a blanket dry cow authorisation will need to be making steps towards resolving these mastitis issues, for example doing cultures, antibiograms, or mastitis WOFs.

Internal teat sealant when used correctly are effective in reducing cases of mastitis over the dry period and as cows are calving down.  It provides a plug to stop new infections entering the udder which gives long term protection up until the point of calving.

However, there can be a great risk in using teat sealant alone if not done correctly. Administration of internal teat sealants must be done to an absolute gold standard to avoid severe mastitis. Without the additional coverage of antibiotic dry cow, careful attention to cleanliness and good technique as well as good pre and post dry off management is essential to avoid a poor outcome. The tubes need to be kept clean and dry to avoid any contamination of the tube. The teat end must be completely clean.  There are bacteria all over the skin surface. When the tube enters it can push bacteria/yeast/other microbes that are on the skin up into the teat canal.  So, the teat end needs to be clean and then another teat wipe used to sterilise, and then the tube can be inserted.  It is important to concentrate on making sure the teat sealant tubes tip doesn’t come into contact with anything other than the clean teat end.  

We can provide on farm training to all staff involved in drying off the herd.  We also have technicians which are all trained and assessed at the start of each season who can do the teat sealant administration for you. Correct teat sealant administration is crucially important.