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Dairy farmers are making big strides in managing mastitis in their herds – while using fewer antibiotics, suggests a study. Breakthrough in mastitis battle

Dairy farmers are making big strides in managing mastitis in their herds – while using fewer antibiotics, suggests a study.

Most milk producers are now practising selective dry cow therapy (SDCT) rather than routinely using antibiotics at drying off, according to the Zoetis survey of more than 200 dairy farmers.

It found that more than 90% of producers were practising SDCT. Some 70% are using antibiotics in less than half of their herd. Almost 80% said they were also using an internal teat sealant at drying off.

The findings support the latest
results from the Responsible Use of Medicines Alliance (RUMA) Target Taskforce Report. It found that the targets set for a reduction in the use of dry cow antibiotics are already being achieved. But only one quarter of respondents said they were regularly using lab cultures to identify the cause of mastitis, with 31% not monitoring cases at all, said Zoetis veterinary expert Andy Tyrer.

“Results show a significant move by farmers away from routinely using antibiotics at drying off to using SDCT. It’s encouraging to see almost three-quarters of farmers aware of the importance of administering pain relief to cases of clinical mastitis during lactation. 

“The survey suggests farmers are working more closely with their vets to manage cow health, with vet recommendation ranking highest when farmers decide how to treat infected cows. 

“There was also a desire for further education from producers, particularly on the control of mastitis in lactation (almost 50%) and the dry period, with nearly half wanting to receive that from farm walks/ farmers meetings and one-to-one training with their vet.”

The survey, however, has highlighted that while farmers may think they know the greatest cause of mastitis on their farm, some aren’t doing any monitoring at all.

Most farmers  considered lactation origin environmental infection the primary source of transmission.