Time for Dairies to Switch from Blanket Dry Cow Therapy To Selective Therapy?

Dairies in the Netherlands are required by law to use selective dry cow therapy. The idea was to reduce antibiotic use, however, the industry has been surprised by the unexpected benefits they've experienced on-farm.
calendar icon 13 August 2018
clock icon 2 minute read

Dr. Ynte Schukken, with GD Animal Health in the Netherlands and professor at both Wageningen University and Utrecht University, recently spoke at the International Meeting for the National Mastitis Council in Milan, Italy about this process of reducing antimicrobial use on farms in the Netherlands.

"For dairy farms, the big thing is use of antibiotics at the time of dry-off. We were always used to doing blanket dry cow therapy - very slowly, we're now moving to selective dry cow therapy," said Dr. Schukken. "In the Netherlands, by law it is now required to have selective dry cow therapy. We've done it for four or five years with very great success in the sense that all farms are now using selective dry cow therapy."

Much to their surprise, quality of milk, the number of mastitis cases, animal health were not affected by the switch to selective dry cow therapy.

"It went actually in the other direction; we saw an improvement of animal health and an improvement of bulk tank somatic cell counts," noted Dr. Schukken. "This, I think, is really a game-changer in our world. We've been always very reluctant to do selective dry cow therapy. But with the changes in management, more precise management, better emphasis of hygiene and opportunities to work on immune function, the farmers are actually able to manage the reduction of antibiotics very well."

The net result - antibiotic use was reduced by about 60 per cent, and the animal health and the milk quality status were improved by about 20 per cent.

"In my mind, it's a very important step we're taking in the field of udder health and mastitis management," he said.

Dr. Schukken is careful to point out that the use of antibiotics is not bad.

"They [antibiotics] are very helpful, but if you take them away by force or by law, so to say, the creativity and the ability of dairy farmers and their advisors to actually come up with alternatives was so good and so high that they were able to actually improve the health status of the animals," he noted.

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Sarah Mikesell, Senior Editor

Sarah Mikesell, Senior Editor

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