Dry Cow Therapy / Antibiotics

We have moved into a new age – the Post Antibiotic Era. Well, maybe not, but we are certainly part of the movement to reduce, replace and rationalize antimicrobial usage so that we minimize the spread of drug resistant bacteria to people. The NZVA states that by 2030 we should no longer need antibiotics to maintain animal health. This does not mean we won’t be able to treat sick animals, rather it is an aspirational aim to have better preventative health programs, management and husbandry in place so we don’t need to use antibiotics prophylactically. You can see our industry/profession has already made inroads with this, such as the work and recommendations done on colostrum management and pen hygiene to maximize calf health, and the focus on drying off practices and an increasing use of teat sealants.


However, this most affects us with antibiotic dry cow therapy. Blanket DCT is no longer permitted; we are allowed to treat high SCC cows or those with a mastitis profile, but “clean” cows need to be managed through dry off procedure/teat sealants/environmental management/ monitoring. This means that we need to identify high/low cell count cows. A herd test is the best solution to this, otherwise the cows could be RMT’d.

The other side of the coin is the Traffic Light Categorization of antimicrobials. We are trying to use/prescribe less Red antibiotics, as these are considered critical for human health. There are a limited number of choices to be fair, but it is something we need to address nonetheless.

The MPI report “Antibiotics Sales Analysis” details the National consumption of antibiotics in the animal & horticultural sector for 2017. Interestingly it shows that 58% was used in medicated feeds, 23% of sales were for injectable, 12% intramammaries, and half of all antibiotics were used in the pig and poultry  industry. Alarmingly, the sale of products “critical to human health” went up for 4 of the 5 drugs.