Dairy Focus: You may be eligible for a free dry cow consultation

Animal Health Ireland (AHI) is again working with farmers to provide a free consultation with vets to allow you to plan your drying off strategy
Dairy Focus: You may be eligible for a free dry cow consultation

The practice of blanket dry cow therapy is being questioned in many countries, by farmers, consumers and society in general.

Are you eligible for a free dry cow consultation?

Are you milk recording?

Is your bulk tank SCC consistently below 200,000 cells/mL?

Are you ready to reduce antibiotic use at drying off?

The CellCheck Programme from Animal Health Ireland (AHI) is again working with farmers to provide a free consultation with vets to allow you to plan your drying off strategy this year for eligible herds, delivered through the Targeted Advisory Service on Animal Health (TASAH), funded by the Rural Development Programme and co-ordinated by AHI.

With the right hygiene, management and support, many herds are successfully reducing their antibiotic use at drying off, by developing selective dry cow strategies in consultation with their veterinary practitioners.

This three-hour consultation is carried out with your selected TASAH trained veterinary practitioner, and is an opportunity to assess your current drying off process and dry period performance and identify additional gains that can be made.

Milk recording results and farm records will be analysed to identify individual animals that may be suitable for a ‘non-antibiotic’ dry off, and the best way of implementing this.

It is important to remember that a selective dry cow strategy is not without risk and is not something to embark on without seeking professional support and advice.

Dry cow therapy

All farmers have an opportunity to maximise udder health when drying off cows and during the dry period, and in some cases to safely reduce the number of cows receiving antibiotic treatment as part of a drying off strategy.

“Blanket dry cow therapy”, where all cows are treated with dry cow antibiotic tubes, was traditionally recognised as best practice in mastitis control, and has made a very positive contribution to udder health in many countries.

However, as we learn more about the association between antibiotic use and antibiotic resistance, the practice of blanket dry cow therapy is being questioned in many countries, by farmers, consumers and society in general.

There is a growing interest in and move towards “selective dry cow strategies”, which involve a more targeted use of antibiotic treatments.

Note, however, this practice is not without risk and may not be suitable for all herds.

Funded consultation for planning drying off

The purpose of the TASAH Dry Cow Consultation is to enable farmers to engage with their vet to develop farm-specific selective dry cow strategies, where appropriate.

Milk recording results and farm records will be reviewed, as well as current practices when drying off cows, to help develop and plan these strategies.

The cost of this consultation is covered by DAFM.

Eligibility and requirements

In order to maximise the positive outcomes from this initiative, the service will be made available to herds that already have the necessary information and records to support decision-making and planning.

To be considered eligible for the free service, a dairy farmer must meet the following criteria:

Average bulk milk tank SCC for the last 12 months is less than 200,000 cells/mL.

Milk recordings in the last 12 months.

Farmers availing of the TASAH service will also be recommended to adopt a number of good practices at drying off and post calving, including milk recording, recording of the date of treatments etc.

Many of these you will be already doing.

Your vet will have more details of this on the day of the consultation.

Eligibility assessment of all applications received will be carried out at the start of October, at which time all applicants will be notified whether or not they are eligible for the free consult.

Find out more details from Animal Health Ireland and how to apply for a consultation on the http://animalhealthireland.ie website.

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