As we head towards drying off, now is the time to consider your options for treatment and prevention of mastitis using dry cow antibiotic and/or teatseal.
With the increasing awareness of antimicrobial resistance, recommendations to phase out blanket antibiotic treatment of your dry cows by 2020 are in place. The use of teatseal can provide long term protection for heifers and those cows with low somatic cell counts (SCC) as it protects against new infections during the dry period.
Teatseal in heifers has shown to have a huge reduction in the incidence of mastitis. Heifer mastitis can be a frustration to treat and leaves them at increased risk of being culled. A New Zealand (NZ) study (Newton, 2011) showed that in heifers calved at least seven days after teatsealing, the sealed quarters had only 35 percent of the risk of clinical mastitis compared to unsealed quarters. Other studies have shown a decrease in clinical mastitis by 70 percent.
Using teatseal alongside dry cow antibiotic therapy (DCT) has also shown to reduce the incidence of mastitis. A NZ study (Bates and Chambers, 2015) showed adding teatseal to a DCT reduced subclinical mastitis at the first herd test particularly in cows that had high SCC and also reduced clinical mastitis in the first 100 days.
Many cows have a longer dry period than the protection of DCTs. Teatseal can provide protection for the entire dry period and in another NZ study (Estendart, 2014) showed 96.7% retained teatseal for 20 weeks, well beyond the average dry period in NZ of 13 weeks. The high retention of teatseal over the important pre-calving period when the teat canal may open is of huge benefit. The label use is to administer four to six weeks prior to calving but it can be used up to 12 weeks before (this is off label use). It can also be administered closer to calving if necessary, one to four weeks prior to planned start of calving.
Part of the decision to use teatseal will be considering how your herd is managed over the dry period. Spring calving herds and herds spending a lot of time on crops, standoff areas and feed pads are highly likely to be challenged over winter with wet muddy conditions. Last year farms using teatseal fared better at calving time with lower rates of mastitis.
We now have use of a teatseal trailer throughout Manawatu and Tararua to make the job easier. This can be taken to run offs or used on farm if preferable to running them through the shed and provides a safe and efficient set up for teatseal insertion. We are taking bookings now and if you have any questions about using teatseal or DCT please talk to your veterinarian.