A group of seven European experts in bovine mastitis have issued a statement recommending that all cows on all farms should have an internal teat sealant administered at drying off.

The group, which was convened by Boehringer Ingelheim, made its recommendation in a poster published at the National Mastitis Council meeting in Arizona1, prior to the launch of Boehringer's new teat sealant, Ubroseal.

The poster added that those animals that are likely to be infected need to receive antibiotic dry cow therapy (ADCT) in addition to a teat sealant.

Boehringer says various studies have shown that using an ITS reduces the risk of new intramammary infections and reduces the risk of clinical mastitis after calving, pointing to a meta-analysis of published papers which showed a 25% reduced risk of new infections and a 29% reduced risk of clinical mastitis for cows receiving ITS plus ADCT compared with ADCT alone

Boehringer’s veterinary adviser, Kath Aplin said: "Against the backdrop of targets from RUMA to reduce antibiotic use in the dairy sector3, adopting ITS for all cows could significantly reduce the need for antibiotics. An increase in the use of ITS is included in the dairy sector targets.

"We estimate that, currently, around 29% of the national herd is dried off without an ITS, so there is huge room for growth4."

Kath added: "With a 300-cow US study showing that a week after drying off, 47% of teats had still not formed a keratin plug5 and a New Zealand study showing that one in 20 cows had teats that remained open for 60 days6, it is clear to see that delayed teat closure is a very real problem in many herds. Teats remaining open after dry off make the udder highly susceptible to infection and delayed teat closure exacerbates the risk of acquiring an intramammary infection post-dry off4."

The expert group also recommended developing a herd plan, classifying herds as low risk or high risk and having a different approach to each.

High risk herds will have had a bulk SCC of >250,000 cell/ml in at least two of the last six months, they may also have a problem with Strep. agalactiae or could be experiencing an unavoidable risk period (a new building for example).

The priority should be to improve udder health management during both the lactation and dry period and any decision to abandon ADCT should be made with care and a full risk assessment.

The group said that in reality, it may be prudent to continue blanket ADCT until udder health has improved.

The group’s recommendations for low risk herds (<250,000 cells/ml in four out of the last six months) were to actively strive towards selective ADCT, supported by ITS for all cows.

The full recommendations are published in the proceedings of the NMC1 or can be obtained from your local Boehringer Ingelheim representative.

Kath said: "It has long been established that the mammary gland is highly susceptible to infection in the dry period and that the majority of clinical mastitis in early lactation is picked up during the dry period.

"Moving towards selective ADCT may not be appropriate immediately for all producers. However, the use of ITS for all cows on all farms will reduce new infection rates, assisting in the drive towards improved udder health and reduced antibiotic use."

References

  1. Bradley et al (2018) Proc. National Mastitis Council
  2. Rabie and Lean (2013) J.Dairy Sci. 96, 6915-31
  3. RUMA (2017) Targets Task Force report  
  4. Based on 1.9 million cows in the UK (AHDB Dairy data 2016), 400 day calving interval, 26% cull rate (NMR 500 herds report 2017) = 1.3 million cows dried off in 2016. 0.92 million courses of ITS sold in UK in 2016 (Gfk sales data 2016)
  5. Dingwell et al.( 2004) Prev. Vet. Med. 63, 75-89. 
  6. Williamson et al. (1995) N. Z. Vet. J. 43, 228-34. 

Photo: Curious cattle on farmland in Cornwall UK. Shutterstock/Shzphoto