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Is Whole Herd Dry Cow Therapy the Answer?

June 8, 2016

Whole herd dry cow therapy is still very commonly used to prevent high SCC and clinical mastitis at drying off, however with growing concern over antibiotic resistance, is it time to reconsider our options?


Last year The Centre for Disease Dynamics, Economics and Policy released a report on the current state of the worlds antibiotics*. This report looks at antibiotic use and resistance in humans and animals around the globe.

The good news is that compared to other countries around the world New Zealand has low rates for antibiotic resistance to Staphylococcus Aureus (Fig. 1), the major contributor to mastitis cases in NZ (Dairy NZ Farmfact 3-10). However, this doesn’t mean we’re off the hook.



Figure 1. Percentage of Staphylococcus Aureus that are Methicillin resistant, by country (most recent year 2011-2014).*


The report suggests a number of major national-level strategies to help countries combat antibiotic resistance. The most applicable to the agricultural sector were to:

  • Change incentives that encourage antibiotic overuse and misuse, to incentives that encourage antibiotic stewardship and,

  • Reduce and eventually phase out antibiotic use in agriculture.

While the latter statement seems ambitious, they do go on to say that “minimizing antibiotic use in disease prophylaxis (prevention) need not jeopardize human or animal health”, and we would agree!


At Mineral Systems we support the reduction of antibiotic use in disease prevention (including whole herd dry cow therapy) and encourage the sustainable use of antibiotics. If you’re interested in why whole herd dry cow therapy is not the real answer to your SCC and mastitis issues read these articles:


Uncommon Yet Effective Mastitis and SCC Control for Dairy Cows


Minimising Disease Risk at Dry Off


*Centre for Disease Dynamics, Economics & Policy. 2015. Sate of the World’s Antibiotics, 2015. CDDEP. Washington, DC.

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