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A critical role of the dry cow program

February 02, 2016
POSTED BY: Mark Kirkpatrick | DVM, MS | Managing Veterinarian | Dairy Technical Services | Zoetis

While dry cows are resting, the dry cow program should be hard at work, clearing up lingering subclinical infections, helping to prevent bacterial invasion of the teat ends and boosting immunity to help prevent production crippling infections for the next lactation.

A pathogen map or pie chart can be developed from identifying the bacteria infecting your high somatic cell count cows. It is a vital tool for you and your veterinarian. Use it to make sure your program includes dry cow therapy labeled to treat the most common mastitis pathogens on the dairy, including Gram-positive bacteria.

Research shows the most prevalent mastitis-causing pathogens in dry cows are Gram-positive:

  • 51% of all new environmental streptococci intramammary infections occurred while dry.1
  • 56% of clinical mastitis cases due to Streptococcus uberis originated in the dry period.3
  • 33% of clinical mastitis cases due to Streptococcus dysgalactiae originated in the dry period.3

The prevalence of Gram-negative bacteria also remains a threat to herd productivity and udder health, especially during the dry period. Nearly 21 percent of all mastitis infections on dairy operations are caused by Gram-negative bacteria,4 such as Escherichia coli (E. coli). If left untreated, mild and moderate Gram-negative mastitis can become severe and toxic, reducing herd productivity and a dairy’s bottom line.  

ORBESEAL®  internal teat sealant and an Escherichia coli (E. coli) vaccine, ENVIRACOR® J-5, are essential components in a complete dry cow program. When used properly, ORBESEAL can help prevent new infections in the dry cow environment by acting as a physical barrier between mastitis-causing bacteria and the udder. Vaccinating against E. coli mastitis can help boost cows’ immunity and aid in the control of clinical signs. 

A complete dry cow management program can decrease the number of existing intrammammary infections and/or prevent new infections during the early weeks of the dry period.To help ensure your cows are productive in their lactation, work with your veterinarian to establish best practices for a dry cow program on your dairy. 

Refer to the ORBESEAL label for complete instructions on proper administration at dry off and removal at freshening.

1 Todhunter DA, Smith KL, Hogan JS. Environmental streptococcal intramammary infections of the bovine mammary gland. J Dairy Sci. 1995;78(11):2366-2374.

2 Bradley AJ, Green MJ. A study of the incidence and significance of intramammary enterobacterial infections acquired during the dry period. J Dairy Sci. 2000;83(9):1957-1965.

3 Bradley AJ, Green MJ. A study of the incidence and significance of Gram-positive infections acquired during the dry period under UK field conditions, in Proceedings. Natl Mastitis Counc 40th Annu Meet 2001;185-186.

4 Schukken YH, Bennett GH, Zurakowski MJ, et al. Randomized Clinical Trial to Evaluate the Efficacy of a 5-day Ceftiofur Hydrochloride Intrammamary Treatment on Nonsevere Gram-negative Clinical Mastitis. J Dairy Sci 2011;94(12):6203-6215.

5 National Mastitis Council. Dry Cow Therapy. 2016. 



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